It’s going to be a fun year to watch American Athletic Conference football. This league is going to be wide open and there are some solid football teams that will be in contention. There are 12 teams in the AAC, and we expect at least 6 of them to make it to a bowl game. Additionally, a few of these squads will give major college teams a game. There probably won’t be any Boise State type teams that can sneak up and contend for a major bowl game in the AAC, but this is the deepest, most talented mid-major conference overall.
The conference title race is going to be epic. Cincinnati and Houston have established programs and will be in the thick of things come November. But they aren’t the only teams with championship aspirations. Navy, Memphis, and Temple are all a few breaks away from giving Cincinnati a run for their money. With that said, it’s not going to be easy to defeat the Bearcats. Cincinnati had a potent offense last season and returns 8 starters including Gunner Kiel, one of the AAC’s top quarterbacks.
Memphis will get their shot to prove they are superior to Cincinnati at home on September 24. Like Cincinnati, Memphis returns a talented quarterback in junior Paxton Lynch. Memphis will need to overcome an inexperienced defense and a lack of a proven playmaker at running back. Houston’s new coach Tom Herman is considered an offensive genius. He will begin his tenure at Houston with a pretty talented quarterback in Greg Ward Jr. and 1,000-yard rusher Kenneth Farrow. Houston has traditionally been an offensive juggernaut that struggles to stop the opposition, but last year’s Cougars were stout defensively. Watch out for linebacker Steven Taylor. He’s a hard hitter that is effective as a pass rusher and a run stopper.
If any team will beat Cincinnati for the AAC East title, that team is likely to be Temple. The Owls were a surprise 6-6 team last year and have 17 starters back, including 10 on defense. Temple is an interesting team. They ranked 4th nationally defensively, but 97th offensively. Quarterback P.J. Walker is the guy that will be responsible with turning the offense around, but he was very inconsistent last year. He threw far too many interceptions (15) and not enough TD’s (13). The Owls have limited playmakers at running back and wide receiver but do return 4 offensive line starters. If they can’t find some offensive playmakers, it’s going to be tough to win this league even with the conference’s best defense.
Are you an SMU, Tulane, South Florida, UCONN, or Tulsa fan? If so, our deepest apologies for what we’re about to say about your team. Okay, here goes…your team is terrible! Unfortunately, the teams that made this list have absolutely no hope for success in 2015. Maybe next year? With that said, South Florida fans will at least get to enjoy watching running back Marlon Mack perform. So there’s that…
East Carolina and Central Florida may not win the conference, but they aren’t hopeless. These are two squads that have the talent to beat any team in this league on any given Saturday. Both teams are similar in certain ways. For example, they both must replace many key defensive players. Cental Florida has the edge because of returning quarterback Justin Holman. Holman threw for nearly 3,000 yards last season. East Carolina, on the other hand, has no experience at quarterback. Well, unless you want to count the 10 passes Kurt Benkert threw in mop-up duty last year. However, both teams have talent at most skill positions and on the offensive line. Both will be fun teams to watch.
- AAC East Champs: Cincinnati
- AAC West Champs: Houston
- AAC Offensive POY: Gunner Kiel, QB Cincinnati
- AAC Defensive POY: Matt Ioannidis, DE Temple