That said, Mountain West not withstanding, I still think they are the best of the power five conferences but still a couple of notches below even the Big XII, which I consider to be the weakest of all the "major" conferences.
Last year Temple provided everyone with a great story, beating Navy in the Championship game when an insanely talented Houston team stumbled inexplicably to both of them in the regular season. This year I think the most talented team wins.
Here's how I see it going....
South Florida is the class of the conference, they're loaded with talent and they have a good HC in Charlie Strong who understands both the good and the bad of having a spotlight on you. They have the best offensive player in the conference in the person of QB Quentin Flowers. At worst they'll finish 11-1 and will probably be the Big 6 representative for the Group of 5.
I have Memphis winning the West, with an identical record to Houston but getting the tie-break due to beating the Cougars at Memphis. Home games count in conference play. They also have a ton of talent returning on offense, and a defense that I project will be among the best in the conference by year's end. They have holes to fill, but have recruited well on that side of the ball. My bold prediction for the conference comes in the form of Tulane, who I feel will be the most underrated team in the conference this year. Head Coach Willie Fritz' team lost eight games last year, but 4 of them were by less than 10 points. And they did this without a quarterback to speak of. K-State transfer Jonathan Banks should solve that problem and vault them into bowl eligibility.
SMU has talent, but is lacking a defense, the same can be said for UCF (the most overrated school in the conference, and Navy. Cincinnati, East Carolina, Connecticut and Tulsa are all rebuilding and looking up toward the other teams. Given coaching attrition, most of the coaches here are too new to really be on the hot-seat.
OPOY: Quentin Flowers (USF)
DPOY: Ed Oliver (Houston)
COY: Willie Fritz (Tulane)