The 49ers came close to achieving a bowl game last season, and it looked like they were well on their way to doing so at one point. Then all of the sudden the defense looked like it became part of the Big 12 Conference, and gave up massive amounts of yards and points to end the year on a three-game losing streak. That is simply not what you want to see if you're a Charlotte fan, and that has been the biggest issue for this team for the last several years. They lack the consistency to really be a contender in Conference USA, even if the new look of the conference this year should make it much more manageable to get to a bowl game.
This season should at least offer some hope for Charlotte, as they have an experienced roster with a decent season under their belts. The schedule in the new-look Conference USA should be far easier than what it was before as well, which will boost their chances. The defense just has to play better than it did last season, and it cannot have that type of total meltdown like in 2021. Hopefully the experience of last year will prevent that from happening, and we see real improvements on that side of the ball. They will need it if they want to reach six wins.
This could be a make-or-break year for Willie Taggart at FAU. It was never supposed to be this hard to win for the former Oregon and Florida State coach, who came into FAU to replace Lane Kiffin. Taggart is known as a great team builder, and to be fair, he really didn't get much time or opportunity to flip FSU around. The difference is the fact that FAU didn't need to be rebuilt when he arrived in 2020. The team was coming off some great seasons, and they just needed to continue riding the wave of success. Everything seemed to be going smoothly last year with a 5-3 record and just one more win needed to be bowl-eligible, and then everything totally flopped. Four straight double-digit losses killed all hope for the Owls, and made it three losing seasons in the last four for Taggart since leaving Oregon after 2017.
That all needs to change this season. Conference USA is far weaker now than it was a year ago, the team is filled with experienced veterans, and they injected a boatload of talent and depth from the transfer portal. They should be one of the favorites to win the Conference, but we all know nothing is set in stone.
This should be a tough one, but with how everything is playing out in C-USA, this should be FAU's time to shine in the spotlight. If not, Taggart is probably gone. I'll take FAU to cover the -7 here and start their season off on the right foot.
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