Mid-Majors on the Rise for 2015

Perhaps it’s my kindhearted nature that catapults these mid-major college football team high upon a pedestal.

Or maybe it stems from everyone else’s affection with conferences such as the SEC and Big 12, the fixation on these dressed to kill programs acclaimed by the majority of sports media so much that Desmond Howard continues to giggle like a schoolgirl over his maize and blue come Saturday morning.

I prefer jutting out from the census, so while the mid-majors won’t battle it out for a playoff spot, we compile a handful of valuable teams for 2015.

Appalachian State Mountaineers

For only the second year as program amidst the FBS, the Mountaineers will hope to chip off of their 7-5 season in 2014, and some sharp minds believe the talent is all but there as well.

Not only does the Appalachian State football program rekindle the flame with a host of returning starters, Las Vegas has set its projected total to 8.5 wins for next year’s campaign, which tops all Sun-Belt representatives.

Not only could this portray a dash of foreshadowing by the books, but the Mountaineers Over 8.5 victories is also juiced at -175, meaning you’d have to wager $175 to earn a return of $100. This tops such schools as UL-Lafayette and a much improved Georgia Southern.

30 August 2014: Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield, center, gathers with his players on the field during warmups before an NCAA college football game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Appalachian State Mountaineers, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Appalachian State will look to challenge for the top spot in the Group of 5 for a trip to a New Years Six bowl.

I expect a balanced offense with quarterback Taylor Lamb and the flash of tailback Marcus Cox to head the club for what should be a dazzling 2015 season. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘Neers took the Sun-Belt, given that after ULL and Georgia Southern, there lies a plethora of misfits beneath.

Marshall Thundering Herd

No-brainer here in the Conference USA, but for those that hold doubts about the possibility of the Herd declining without Rakeem Cato, Marshall beat writer Grant Traylor notified us about the optimism:

“Marshall loses many players who racked up lots of statistics in 2014, but the talent level for 2015 is just as strong as ever. The Herd’s dynamic might take on more of a power approach, but the weapons are still there offensively to go hyper-speed and put points up quickly. Birdsong brings a trust and a different dynamic to the Marshall offense than what was seen with Cato, and the return of Johnson from a 1,700-yard season a year ago certainly helps ease a new quarterback into his role. If the defense can simply maintain its output from one season ago, Marshall will be in the hunt for a Conference USA title once again.”

I’m not sure Western Kentucky can double up on that productive expedition last season, so that leaves Louisiana Tech to blockade the Herd–that is unless another team steps to the forefront.

Houston Cougars

It’s difficult to not like the Cougars, if we’re being honest.

Those that claim Houston will succeed because of their comeback win versus Pittsburgh in last season’s bowl game are strictly lying.

A team cannot plot points amidst their season following a contest held more than eight months ago, however their quarterback situation finally looks cemented with Greg Ward Jr. at the helms and should supply a more-than-capable offense for the Cougars in 2015.

Fancying over to the defense, a conference hellbent on the aerial attack demands taming, so a fully functional Houston secondary may do the trick, as they return each defensive back from a year ago.

They and the Memphis Tigers currently hold the top number of projected wins within the AAC at 8.5.

Navy Midshipmen

I’d have to hold myself accountable for wrongdoing without mentioning the Midshipmen, as they’ll transfer over to the AAC in 2015.

What I like most about the anchor helmets this season is the triple-option attack that’s run ever so fluent by Keenan Reynolds, and this lacks the typical conference change: Navy’s been dealt with adequate scheduling in the past.

They should fit in quite well within the fresh corps, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing a run-heavy option betwixt the gunslinging AAC.

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