BOCA RATON, Fla. – Florida International and Florida Atlantic are projected to finish second and third, respectively, in the Conference USA East Division.
Marshall is the preseason pick to win the C-USA East, while North Texas is the favorite in the West Division, according to a poll conducted by members of the media.
The Panthers received nine first-place votes, while the Owls received three.
FIU returns 16 starters from last year's 9-4 season, including quarterback James Morgan, reigning C-USA newcomer of the year, and linebacker Sage Lewis, who was named C-USA preseason defensive player of the year.
The Panthers were 6-2 in C-USA play, falling to rival FAU and Marshall after a 4-0 start.
FAU stumbled to a 5-7 finish in Lane Kiffin's second season after winning a school-record 11 games, capturing the C-USA crown and crushing Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to cap the 2017 season.
The Owls finished 3-5 in C-USA play.
FIU and FAU join projected division winners Marshall and North Texas as the only teams to receive first-place votes.