UCF football picked to finish first in Conference USA Eastern Division

UCF is the preseason pick to win Conference USA’s Eastern Division, according to a media poll released Tuesday morning.

The Knights, who posted a 5-7 record last season, earned 13 out of 15 possible first place votes and 85 total points. The media poll was compiled by the Houston Chronicle.

Southern Miss, the league’s 2011 champion, scored the other two Eastern Division first-place votes  and finished with a total of 70 points. Marshall was picked to finish third with 58 points, followed by East Carolina with 56 points. UAB was picked to finish fifth with 29 points and Memphis was picked to finish sixth with 17 points.

It was a far more crowded race for the top spot in Conference USA’s Western Division.

Houston was the preseason pick to win the division, earning eight first place votes and 81 total points. Tulsa was picked to finish second with four first place votes and 73 points, while SMU received three other first place votes and 67 points. UTEP was picked to finish fourth with 39 points, Rice was projected to finish fifth with 35 points and Tulane finished sixth with 20 points.

Conference USA released its individual awards Monday. Four UCF players – safety Kemal Ishmael, defensive lineman Victor Gray, offensive lineman Theo Goins and kickoff return specialist Rannell Hall -- earned spots on the preseason All-Conference USA team voted on by the league’s coaches. C-USA does not release projected team standings.

The conference’s preseason football media day is Wednesday. UCF assistant coach Brent Key and senior running back Latavius Murray will represent the Knights at media day. Key will be filling in for UCF coach George O’Leary, who recently had surgery on his leg and was instructed by his doctors not to travel.

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