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The American Athletic Conference Isn’t Elite, But It’s Competetive

Ari Russell



A lot has been talked about this week regarding the power conferences in college football with the college football playoff standing causing it’s annual November stir. Earlier in the season there was a chance that the American Athletic Conference could have had a representative in the playoff as Houston was picked to maybe go unscathed. After the impressive win over Oklahoma a lot of folks thought it was a possibility. That’s not going to happen obviously, but that doesn’t mean that the conference is full of pushovers. In fact, as the Cougars demonstrated with their Thursday night decisive win over Louisville,  it’s quite the opposite.

The American Athletic Conference is tough and competitive. Not quite elite, but there’s some good football going down in the AAC.

Let’s begin with one of our resident teams in South Florida or USF. Right now they are 8-2 overall and 5-1 in conference. Their sole loss was against Temple in conference and if they win out the regular season, they will win 10 regular season games for the first time in school history. Impressive! They will need a Temple loss to reach the conference title game however. Head Coach Willie Taggart may not be in the zip code much longer as he’s certainly becoming a hot commodity.

Temple is in the pole position to win the AAC East. They should at least on paper as they take on Tulane and ECU who would be bowl eligible if you added up their win totals.

The other resident team UCF is having a solid season so far. They sit at 6-4 overall and 4-2 in conference. They do have a nice showdown with USF, in the battle of I-4 to close out the regular season. The Knights are having such a nice season, that head coach Scott Frost has been mentioned as a possible replacement in Oregon if they make a coaching move.  

On the other side of the conference the AAC West. The Navy Midshipmen are having a heck of a year 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference. Their only loss in conference was against USF. They just need to beat either ECU or SMU to ride to the conference title game.

Houston was supposed to be the crown jewel of the conference (see above). However that was upended when Navy knocked them down and SMU put the nail in coffin for their national intentions. They still will go to a decent bowl game, because Thursday night and their opening weekend win vs. an Oklahoma team that may still win the Big XII was huge.

Tulsa has quietly had a nice season. They had a chance to possibly win the division, but fell just short of beating Navy last week 42-40.

Memphis has been a thorn in the side of everyone in the conference. Their win over Temple earlier in the year kept things interesting. They almost beat USF too. The Tigers are bowl eligible again, for a school.

Sure the conference isn’t setting the world ablaze, but it sure is competitive and it seems at least for the top teams anyone could beat each other. Look out during bowl season too, expect a better record than the critics will predict.   

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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