Southern Miss and Houston have been voted on by members of the media to win their respective divisions this season in Conference USA.
The Cougars defeated the Golden Eagles in the C-USA title game last December.
Southern Miss returns eight starters on a defensive unit that allowed the fewest points last season in the league, and ranked second in total defense, rush defense and pass defense.
The biggest question for USM is on the offensive line, where three starters must be replaced.
The Golden Eagles open the 2007 season by hosting Tennessee-Martin September 1.