So I am a little late, but I also wanted to give my two cents on what C-USA did with it’s football schedules. I started with the east and then looked at the west, so technically this is part one.
The big news was that UAB is remaining in the east. This means that because there are 7 teams in the east, 4 teams had to miss out on a division foe and get an additional crossover opponent. I thought the 3 most western teams of the east division were kind of shoe-
ins for that task, the 4th one who got hit with that was FIU. Surprisingly, MTSU only got 2 crossover games. Semi-surprisingly, FBS neophyte Old dominion also got stuck with 3 crossover games, despite being the most eastern team.
Here is how Fans should feel about their teams conference schedule:
Very Happy: none
Happy: Marshall, MTSU
Unhappy: WKU, FAU, ODU
Very Unhappy: FIU
I will get into the details why below East race:
Marshall got stuck with having to play Rice in the corssover. That projects as one of the tougher crossover oponents, and was not a gift. But at least they get them at home, and the other crossover game is at Southern Miss. On top of that the within division home/ away slate falls almost perfectly: MTSU, FAU and WKU all have to play at Marshall leaving pretty much only very winnable games on the road. Together with an eminently winnable OOC schedule this could be a great season. Marshall was gonna be the east favorite no matter what, this schedule will only cement that perception.
Surprisingly MTSU only got 2 crossover games, and they project to be the easiest slate possible: at UTEP and vs Southern Miss. The in division home/away split would be great (home vs WKU, FAU, UAB) if only they could have swapped that at Marshall with UAB. Alas they had them at home last season, and there was not much the league was gonna do about that. But this schedule sure gives MTSU every opportunity to challenge for the division and sets up the game at Marshall as the big hurdle – and opportunity- in order to get there.
Western Kentucky also might have been seen s a dark horse to challenge for the east title. Unsruprisingly the league gave them 3 cross divisionoal games. And as far as it goes that is quite a neutral (not happy not unhappy) slate: vs UTEP and vs UTSA and @La tech. vs UTSA and @La tech are serious hurdles, but it is not totally umiaginable for WKU to come away with 3 wins. That the in conference foe they are missing out on is FIU, I am sure is not particulrly advantegous though, especially if you have to travel to florida anyway. And just generally the in division home road split is very unfavourable for WKUs chances at the division crown: @ Marshall, @ MTSU, @ FAU, vs UAB and vs ODU. Altogether this schedule is not at all helpful for WKUs chances at the division title.
UAB was always gonna get stuck with 3 cross division games, no matter if they had been in the west or east. If we assume that UABs goal is not the division crown but to go bowling, then the games they got are quite ok: vs UNT, @ southern miss and vs La tech. not easy but a win or two are not out of the question. In division they miss out on ODU, an opportunity at a win UAB would certainly have liked. The in division home/away split is neither great nor awful to get to 6 wins: vs Marshall, vs FIU, @MTSU, @WKU, @FAU. All in all it feels like the league did getting to bowl eligibilty any easier or more difficult than it looked last week.
Maybe FAU could have been imagined with an outside shot at the division crown. But FAUs crossover games are @UNT and vs UTSA and that is not conductive to make such a surprise probable. On top of that they play @Marshall, @MTSU and @ FIU, and going better than 2-1 in that stretch will take a lot of heavy lifting for a new coach. At least the home stretch gainst WKU, ODU and UAB should ascertain a halfway respectable win total. But overall FAU really could have profited from easier crossover games and a better home/away split.
Yes UTSA proved last season that a FBS neophyte can immeadiatley challenge for a division crown, but despite my feeling that Old Dominion University might surprise a few people, I feel this is not the ideal schedule for them: they got 3 crossover games that include travelling to texas twice (@rice, @UTEP) with only one game really feeling like it is up for grabs. Then they get La Tech at home. So crossover difficulty is medium, but there is a lot of travel and playing in the hot texas sun. In division they miss out on UAB, a game both schools probably would ahve liked to trade in for a game against say Marshall or MTSU. They get FIU and the conference favourites MTSU and Marshall at home. If the team is really good enough to challenge for the division this is an advantage, but if the team is just barely good enough to eye 5 or 6 wins under normal circumstances, then this is a serious disadvantage as it means ODU has to play WKU and FAU on the road, making those games a lot harder to win.
FIU plays two FCS schools (not transition, real FCS) in OOC. I guess this means that not even their AD expects FIU to challenge for the division or even bowl eligibility. After all they barely avoided going 0-12 last season. That was despite playing southern miss and UTEP in down years. This meant that FIU was always gonna have a tougher cross divisional slate this season than last season. But getting 3 games was a surprise, and getting @UNT @UTSA and vs Rice, a lot of travel AND 3 teams that combined for 25 wins last season is a particularly unpleasant surprise for FIU. It will thus be hard to find a win in the cross divisional games. They miss out on WKU in division which is quite ok, but getting division favourites Marshall and MTSU at home while having to play @ODU and @ UAB is very unfavourable for a team that will have to claw and scratch for every victory. At least the Shula bowl is a home game… then again what home advantage means to a rivalry game is not so clear. All in all this is a horrible league schedule for FIU.