FAU grabbed 22 of 26 possible first-place votes. Marshall received the other four.
FAU blasted its way through C-USA last season en route to the program’s first title since joining the conference in 2013.
All but one FAU victory in Conference USA play, a 30-25 win over Marshall in November, were by double digits. FAU destroyed North Texas 41-17 in the Conference USA championship game, proving its 69-31 victory over the eventual West Division champ earlier in the season wasn’t a fluke.
C-USA media members expect a rematch in the 2018 championship game. North Texas received 18 first-place votes, with Louisiana Tech, UAB and Southern Miss also receiving first-place votes.
The preseason poll does not select an overall champion.
The 2017 preseason poll proved useless once the season began. The Owls were supposed to finish fifth in their own division, North Texas fourth in theirs. Neither team received a first place vote last season.
The Owls enter 2018 riding a 10-game winning streak – second longest nationally behind Central Florida – but do face their share of challenges, particularly offensively.
FAU will have to replace quarterback Jason Driskel. Neither redshirt freshman Chris Robison nor redshirt junior De’Andre Johnson, the two primary contestants in the FAU quarterback battle, have ever started a Division I game.
The Owls are must replace three starting offensive linemen, two of which – center Antonyo Woods and guard Roman Fernandez – were All-Conference USA selections.
In 2018, FAU’s defense may carry the team. C-USA coaches tabbed linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair as its Defensive Player of the Year. Safety Jalen Young, tied for second nationally in interceptions last season with seven, patrols the secondary. Cornerback Shelton Lewis is also a preseason All-Conference USA selection.
And new defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro, hired during the offseason from Southern Miss, brought an aggressive physical style of play to the Owls during spring drills.
FAU opens its season on Sept. 1 at Oklahoma. The Owls begin defense of their C-USA crown on Sept. 19 at Middle Tennessee.