Top 5 Best C-USA Football Games of 2011 (With Predictions)

Last week, Hair Balls broke down some of the best (as well as the worst) games of the 2011 football season involving Big 12 teams.

Now, Conference USA, which just wrapped up its media days in Memphis, gets a similar treatment.

Houston, thanks to the return of QB Case Keenum, is all over this list. One of the favorites of the East (Central Florida) and another one from the West (SMU) also show face.

UTEP and Memphis, for obvious reasons, do not.

5. Houston vs. Rice, October 27 The Cougars, if all goes well, could boast a pretty good record by the time this Thursday-night game rolls around. Folks shouldn't sleep on Rice, who returns 15 starters, including leading rusher Sam McGuffie. However, UH's unstoppable offensive attack is too much for those poor little Owls. Rice fans should start drowning their sorrows at Valhalla now.

Prediction: UH 48, Rice 34

4. SMU at Texas A&M, September 4 When big stuff is expected of the Aggies, they usually screw the pooch. This season, A&M is slotted to finish in the top three of the new Big 12, which means this will be one of week one's trendy upset picks. It's not going to happen. The Mustangs' run 'n' shoot offense keeps the game close for a while, but turnovers and penalties ultimately do them in.

Prediction: A&M 32, SMU 20

3. Central Florida at BYU, September 23 UCF's rising sophomore quarterback star Jeff Godfrey faces off against BYU's rising sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps in an underrated non-conference game in Provo. Though back-to-back C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Miller does not return for the Knights, the defense should remain pretty salty. However, it's not enough in the high altitude of LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Prediction: BYU 24, UCF 22

2. Houston vs. SMU, November 19 This one could decide the West's representative in the December 3 Conference USA championship game. The June Jones-led Mustangs and the Kevin Sumlin-piloted Cougars will chuck the rock around the yard like mad before Kyle Padron and SMU pull away in the final frame.

Prediction: SMU 54, UH 41

1. Houston vs. UCLA, September 3 Keenum's return will be against the UCLA Bruins, the same team that he was playing against when he blew out his knee. Yeah, 'nuff said. Last week, a University of Houston athletics department employee told Hair Balls that this game is probably going to sell out. A capacity Robertson crowd will help Keenum shake off the first-half rust and motivate the D to stave off a late Bruins' drive.

Prediction: UH 21, UCLA 16

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