USA South Conference
Predicted Order of Finish
Greensboro Pride- The Pride is a team that returns a good number of players from last years squad. With new coaches and a new system in place, It will be interesting to see how the program progresses. I think that Greensboro is a couple of years away from contending, and could pull an upset this year, but I tend to think this will be a season that will feature a lot of learning and preparation for the future. A tough home schedule will limit the Pride to 1 win at home, and this will likely be the bright spot for Greensboro. Mostly look for the Pride to build toward the future.
Prediction: 8th- Predicted Record 1-9 (USASC 0-7)
Methodist Monarchs- A team that struggled last year, but is returning a high percentage of players. I do give credence to the experience factor, but in this case I am doubtful it will be enough. Overall they were ranked at or near the bottom of the conference on both offense and defense, and while they have shown the ability to contend, I see this year as a rebuilding season. The Monarchs have a difficult home schedule, and they will be hard pressed to secure a victory there.
Prediction: 7th- Predicted Record 2-8 (USASC 1-6)
Maryville Scots- This team is very difficult to predict. Graduation took a huge toll on the roster for Maryville. As a team that was .500 last year, I think they will struggle to get to that point this year. They however are a team that should not be taken lightly, especially as the season goes on. Given their fan base, and the ability to get up for big games, they will possibly have a better season than I think. I respect the Scots as a team that can pull an upset, but believe that the roster openings will prove difficult to overcome. Expect some close games for Maryville, but more L's than W's
Prediction: 6th- Predicted Record 2-8 (USASC 2-5)
Averett Cougars- The Cougars finished 2008 with a .500 record, and I look for them to finish about the same this year. The home schedule is a tough one, but don't sell Averett short. They have the potential to pull off an upset, and the home field advantage may make that a possibility. The Cougars do have some roster spots to fill, and will need to carry the late found momentum in 2008, into the 2009 season and maintain it if they hope to contend. With a couple of key wins, they just might.
Prediction: 5th - Predicted Record 5-5 (USASC 3-4)
Shenandoah Hornets- The Hornets open the season with a tough ODAC non Conference schedule, before opening conference play on the road. They host 3 conference opponents in Winchester, and should have a successful home stand. Their problems will be playing away from Shentel Stadium. Shenandoah is a team that with a few breaks can contend for the conference title, but I think overall, they will be outmatched by several schools. Their roster losses are minimal however, and the experience factor will help them. If they can pull an upset, they could finish higher.
Prediction: 4th- Predicted Record 5-5 (USASC 4-3)
AND NOW THE TOP THREE.....
North Carolina Wesleyan Bishops- NCW is looking to get back to the playoffs, but will have to answer a few questions as to roster vacancies. For the Bishops, their powerful offensive backfield is in tact, and their passing game should be as strong as last year. There are not a lot of weaknesses in this team, and look for them to come out of the gates on fire. The narrow loss to Christopher Newport kept them from being the Automatic Qualifier for the 2008 playoffs. The Battling Bishops will be a team that can take it all, but I think they will again end the season short of the playoffs.
Prediction: T 1st- Predicted Record 7-3 (USASC 6-1)
Christopher Newport Captains- With the 3rd ranked running back in the nation from last year, look for the Captains to again have a huge running game. CNU continues it's strong non conference schedule, and that may tell just how good the Captains are. They do have some vacancies to fill, but their solid recruiting has insured that this should not be an issue.
A strong team all the way around, but could be upset along the way. CNU is ranked in the D3 Top 15 in the Sporting News College Football Preview Magazine.
Prediction: T 1st- Predicted Record 7-3 (USASC 6-1)
Ferrum Panthers- The Panthers look solid coming into 2009, and with a strong core of returning starters, Ferrum should be able to make people take notice early. Getting the season off on the right foot will be important to Ferrum, as a successful non conference campaign will set the tone. The opening conference game at NCW will be crucial, and can have a big impact on the final standings. I like Ferrum's chances as they bring back a lot of experience, and will have some fresh faces in the line up. Look for Ferrum's defense to be solid against the run as always, and the offensive ground game to be one of the best in the conference. I expect to see marked improvement in the pass defense. Overall, the Panthers will be tough to stop.
Prediction: T 1st- Predicted Record 9-1 (USASC 6-1)
The tie breaker rule for the USA South is as follows:
a. Head-to-head competition.
b. Performance against higher-rated teams in Conference.
c. Common opponent records.
d. In the event of a three-way tie, the regional ranking following the final games will be used to break the tie between the three teams. This will determine the Conference’s automatic bid to the .
e. Coin toss.
With the scenario above, I predict that the conference representative to the Division 3 playoffs will again be Christopher Newport University. In a three way tie, this will be decided by the regional rankings, and Ferrum will be at a disadvantage due to strength of schedule.
This will only apply if there is a three way tie as I have predicted.