VOTE | Who's your choice to win C-USA's West Division?
With the conference's top returning passer, Southern Miss is the media's choice to repeat as Conference USA's West Division champion.
Led by quarterback Nick Mullens, Southern Miss tied for the most-improved team in the FBS last season, which included a West Division title and a third appearance in the C-USA Championship game.
Mullens, C-USA's Offensive Player of the Year, ranked second in the league in yards (4,476) and touchdown passes (38), both school records, while tying for fourth nationally in TD tosses.
New head coach and former Golden Eagles assistant Jay Hopson has 13 returning starters, seven on offense and six on defense. That includes junior running back Ito Smith and senior offensive lineman Cameron Tom are among the other Southern Miss standouts that have been named to preseason watch lists.
Louisiana Tech, coming off back-to-back bowl victories with a 13-3 league record over the last two years and featuring two-time All-Conference USA senior safety Xavier Woods (56 tackles and five forced turnovers in 2015), was selected second, followed by Rice and its talented group of running backs, picked third.
Rounding out the picks were UTEP, UTSA and North Texas.
The media has spoken. Now it's your turn to vote.
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Above: Quarterback Nick Mullens makes Southern Miss the team to beat this season in Conference USA's West Division. (Courtesy Southern Miss Athletics)