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2021 AAC Football Preview

Updated: Aug 20, 2021




Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Cincinnati- QB Desmond Ridder returns with 3 years of starting experience already under his belt, defense loses coordinator Marcus Freeman but returns several NFL prospects, will face a tougher schedule in 2021 but still the team to beat in the AAC

  2. UCF- Gus Malzahn takes over a talented roster including all-conference QB Dillon Gabriel, shaky D held team back in 2020 ranking outside the top 90 in rush yards and pass yards allowed per game and must improve to threaten Cincy

  3. SMU- Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai looks to replace QB Shane Buchele who had a successful 2 year run after also transferring from Texas, defense has slumped since the second half of the 2019 season, HC Sonny Dykes hopes new D coordinator Jim Leavitt will revitalize the defense as he did in a short stint at Colorado

  4. Tulane- HC Willie Fritz has done a remarkable job taking Tulane to 3 straight bowls, RB Tyjae Spears returns from a torn ACL to lead a rushing attack that ranked 17th in yards per game in 2020, if 2nd year QB Micheal Pratt can develop under new O coordinator Chip Long the Green Wave will take the next step and move into the top echelon of the conference

  5. Tulsa- QB Zac Smith's graduation leaves big questions on offense, returning all 5 starters on the O-line will help significantly, veteran defense that ranked 19 nationally in total defense returns almost everyone and must come up big with early non-conference games at Oklahoma St and Ohio St

  6. Houston- After back to back sub-500 seasons the pressure is on Dana Holgorsen to get the Cougars back to a bowl and into the top tier of the conference, Holgorsen needs veteran QB Clayton Tune to become more consistent better protect the ball, new D coordinator David Belk takes over an deep and experienced unit that should improve after allowing 32 points per game in 2020

  7. Navy- Ken Niumatalolo had only 1 sub-500 season in his first 10 years at Navy, the Midshipmen are coming off their second 3 win campaign in the past 3 seasons, Niumatalolo knows how to coach, led by star LB Diego Fagot look for a similar bounce back season the team experienced in 2019

  8. Memphis- Prolific QB Brady White is gone, solid, veteran defense could keep Memphis in the top tier of the AAC, with White now gone will 2nd year HC Ryan Silverfield be able to sustain the same level of success the Tigers achieved under his predecessors Justin Fuente and Mike Norvell?

  9. ECU- QB Holton Ahlers once again leads the offense, the Pirates appear on the right path heading into HC Mike Houston’s third year after finishing last season with back to back wins over Temple and SMU and losing a close game at Tulsa on late controversial fumble call, could be a dark horse pick if defense makes improvements

  10. USF- Not a lot of bright spots in 2020 under first year HC Jeff Scott who came to USF after serving as O coordinator at Clemson, the Bulls face a tough schedule early with 3 road game against NC State, BYU, and SMU and are at least another year away from climbing up the conference standings

  11. Temple- After back to back 10 win seasons in 2015 and 2016 under then Coach Matt Rhule the Owls have slowly come back down to Earth the past four seasons, Philly is a pro town making it hard to sustain success and build a loyal fanbase at Temple, QB Anthony Russo's departure to Michigan St could keep them near the cellar if Georgia transfer D’Wan Mathis can’t provide a spark

Buy- Navy

Sell- Memphis


Best Bet- Memphis UNDER total wins

Coach of the Year- Luke Fickell Cincinnati

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