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Previewing the AAC: This Conference is Good
The Enquirer

Previewing the AAC: This Conference is Good

In the last few years the AAC has been the best of the Group of 5 conferences (AKA the conferences who are going to get screwed by the Big Boys). Last year it was Cincinnati. Before that it was Central Florida and Houston. Memphis has upset some Power-5 teams and South Florida, Tulsa, SMU, and Navy have had their moments. In 2021, this conference is strong from the top to the bottom again.

Cincinnati returns 14 starters from a 9-1 team that’s only loss came in the Peach Bowl when Georgia kicked a 53-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to win 24-21. They have their QB from 2020 in the fold and Power-5 talent on both sides of the ball.

UCF hired former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn to replace Josh Heupel who moved on to Tennessee. The Knights were a disappointing 6-4 last season but have several quality players returning as they try to return to the top of the league.

SMU, Memphis, and Tulsa, all had good seasons in 2020 and all have the issue of replacing great QBs. There is plenty of talent to help the new QB out for all three of these teams. Whoever, finds the best replacement will challenge for the conference championship.

Tulane continues to get better each year under Coach Willie Fritz but haven’t quite been able to get above the middle of the pack. Meanwhile, Houston has dropped off a bit in the last couple of years but Dana Holgorsen is a good coach and I look for a turnaround in South Texas.

Temple had nine players transfer in and should receive some immediate help. East Carolina has almost every starter back from a year ago so hopefully that experience will help the defense which was one of the country’s worst in 2020.

Navy and South Florida round out the conference and both are seeking to return to their glory days not too long ago. Both teams need improvement on offense and have nowhere to go but up.

This is a league to be reckoned with and it will be difficult for any of the teams to go undefeated through the conference schedule which is a problem. In order to have any shot to crack the 4-team playoff, one of them has to finish undefeated and have a quality win over a big-time opponent. There could be a very good team come out of here and not be considered because they lost a game in the conference.

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