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Previewing the Rest of the AAC
Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the Rest of the AAC


The Cougars return 15 starters and 3rd-year coach Dana Holgorsen, who is making $4 million per year, needs to show some improvement after two mediocre seasons. Houston was affected as much as anyone from COVID in 2020 playing only eight games and finishing 3-5.

Players to Watch: DBs Marcus Jones and Damarion Johnson. DE, Derek Parish and DT, Logan Hall. QB, Clayton Tune. TE, Christian Trahan

Must Win Games: at Rice, Grambling, Navy, East Carolina, at South Florida, at UConn

Toss-up Games They Need to Win but Could Lose: Texas Tech in Houston, at Tulane, at Temple, Memphis, SMU

Probable Losses: at Tulsa

Predicted Finish: 6th Place in AAC

Overall Record: 7-5


The Green Wave have shown steady improvement under Coach Willie Fritz. They have been competitive in a tough conference but have had trouble breaking into the upper half and it won’t be easy to get there this year either. The schedule is really tough with non-conference games against Oklahoma and Ole Miss and they play SMU, Cincinnati, Tulsa, UCF, and Memphis with every one of those teams predicted in the top half of the conference standings.

Players to Watch: OL, Sincere Haynesworth and Corey Dublin. QB, Michael Pratt. RB, Tyjae Spears, LBs, Marvin Moody, Nick Anderson, and Kevin Henry

Must Win Games: Morgan State, at East Carolina, USF

Toss-Up Games They Need to Win But Could Lose: UAB, Houston, Tulsa,

Probable Losses: Oklahoma, at Ole Miss, at SMU, Cincinnati, at UCF, at Memphis

Predicted Finish: 7th Place in the AAC

Overall Record: 5-7

East Carolina:

The Pirates went 3-6 in 2020 but return 19 starters from that team. There is optimism throughout the program and QB Holton Ahlers looks like he could be special. The offensive line returns everyone, they have an All-AAC running back and solid receivers to add to the mix. If they can make some improvements upfront on defense and play better against the run, they could make it to the middle of the pack in the conference. The non-conference schedule is pretty tough and a 2-2 split would be great.

Players to Watch: QB, Holton Ahlers,.RB, Rahjai Harris. LB Xavier Smith. WR, C.J. Johnson

Must Win Games: Charleston Southern, South Florida, Temple

Toss-up Games They Need to Win But Could Lose: at Marshall, South Carolina, Tulane, at Navy

Probable Losses: Appalachian State, at UCF, at Houston, at Memphis, Cincinnati

Predicted Finish: 8th Place in the AAC

Overall Record: 4-8

Temple Owls:

The Owls are coming off a 1-6 season and they were greatly affected by COVID. It was their first losing season since 2013 and they hope to bounce back with a turnover that included of transfers leaving but also a lot coming in as replacements. If the new influx of talent pans out, they hope to get back to a bowl.

Players to Watch: All-purpose, Jadan Blue, TE, David Martin-Robinson, DL, Will Rodgers, QB, D’Wan Mathis, RB, Tayvon Huley

Must Win Games: at Akron, Wagner, Navy

Toss-Up Games They Need to Win But Could Lose: at Rutgers, at South Florida, at East Carolina

Probable Losses: Boston College, Memphis, at Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, at Tulsa

Predicted Finish: 9th Place in the AAC

Overall Record: 4-8

Navy Midshipmen:

The Middies went 3-7 in 2020 but were shut out by hated Army and were routed by Air Force. The program seems to be heading in the wrong direction and the 2021 schedule is Murderer’s Row. It is going to be a rough season one would think.

Players to Watch: LB, Diego Fagot, DB, Michael McMorris, QB, Xavier Arline, RB, Jamale Carothers

Must Wins: East Carolina, at Temple, Army

Toss-up Games They Need to Win But Could Lose: Marshall, Air Force,

Probable Losses: at Houston, UCF, SMU, at Memphis, Cincinnati, at Tulsa, at Notre Dame

Predicted Finish: 10th Place in the AAC

Overall Record: 3-9

South Florida Bulls

The Bulls won the opening game last year and finished 2020 with an eight-game losing streak. The quarterback situation was much improved in the spring and there is an experienced offensive line, and talented receivers so the offense has a chance to be much better. The defense was awful giving up nearly 40 points a game. They have to get much better if the record is going to improve. More problems are a very difficult non-conference schedule.

Players to Watch: LB, Dwayne Boyles, LB, Antonio Grier, QB, Cade Fortin, WRs, Bryce Miller and Latrell Williams, CB, Daquan Evans

Must Wins: Florida A&M, Temple, at ECU

Toss-up Games They Need to Win But Could Lose: Tulsa, at Tulane, Houston

Probable Losses: at NC State, Florida, BYU, at SMU, Cincinnati, at UCF

Predicted Finish: 11th Place in the AAC

Overall Record: 2-10

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