College Football

2016 College Football Preview: American Athletic Conference

Day five of the COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW here at THE Ultimate Sports Blog continues with a look at the division that used to be known as “Louisville and the others”. These days though, it’s generally known as “Houston and the others”.

But not so fast my friend!

Houston is widely regarded as the best team in the AAC, but I’m here to tell you that they are FAR from a lock to win the conference. Don’t believe me? Just go ahead and read on…..




12. Tulane Green Wave


Last Year’s Record: 3-9 (1-7)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: No bowl game

Head Coach: Willie Fritz (0-0 at Tulane)

Top Returning Players: Dontrell Hilliard (RB), Chris Taylor (OG), Junior Diaz (OG), Tanzel Smart (DT), Nico Marley (LB), Parry Nickerson (CB), Jarrod Franklin (S)

Top Incoming Players: Darius Bradwell (QB), Miles Strickland (RB), Jacob Robertson (WR), Tre Jackson (DB), P.J. Hall (DB), Coby Neenan (K)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Navy, Memphis, @Houston, Temple

Predicted Record (for 2016): 2-10 (0-8)

11. SMU Mustangs


Last Year’s Record: 2-10 (1-7)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: No bowl game

Head Coach: Chad Morris (2-10 at SMU)

Top Returning Players: Courtland Sutton (WR), Justin Lawler (DE), Deion Sanders (KR)

Top Incoming Players: Jordan Carmouche (RB), Aphonso Thomas (RB), Brandon Benson (WR), Corey Rau (TE), Michael Badejo (DL)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Baylor, TCU, @Temple, Houston, Memphis, Navy

Predicted Record (for 2016): 3-9 (1-7)

10. East Carolina Pirates


Last Year’s Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: No bowl game

Head Coach: Scottie Montgomery (0-0 at East Carolina)

Top Returning Players: Isaiah Jones (WR), James Summers (WR), J.T. Boyd (OG), Brandon Smith (OT), Demetri McGill (DT), Fred Presley (DE), Dashaun Amos (DB), Worth Gregory (P), Quay Johnson (PR)

Top Incoming Players: Reid Herring (QB), Hussein Howe (RB), Johnnie Glaspie (RB), Anthony Watley (TE), Javontay Smith (DB), Jake Verity (K)

Toughest Games (for 2016): NC State, @South Carolina, @Virginia Tech, Navy, @Cincinnati, @Temple

Predicted Record (for 2016): 3-9 (2-6)

9. UCF Knights


Last Year’s Record: 0-12 (0-8)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: No bowl game

Head Coach: Scott Frost (0-0 at UCF)

Top Returning Players: Tre’Quan Smith (WR), Tyler Hudanick (OG), Aaron Evans (OT), Jamiyus Pittman (DT), Chequan Burkett (LB), Caleb Houston (P)

Top Incoming Players: McKenzie Milton (QB), Adrian Killins (RB), Dredrick Snelson (WR), Aaron Dowdell (OL), Jordan Johnson (OL), Eric Mitchell (LB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Michigan, Maryland, Temple, @Houston, Cincinnati

Predicted Record (for 2016): 4-8 (2-6)

8. Connecticut Huskies


Last Year’s Record: 6-7 (4-4)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: St. Petersburg Bowl vs. Marshall

Head Coach: Bob Diaco (8-17 at UConn)

Top Returning Players: Folorunso Fatukasi (DT), Junior Joseph (LB), E.J. Levenberry (LB), Jamar Summers (DB), Jhavon Williams (DB), Obi Melifonwu (S), Bobby Puyol (K)

Top Incoming Players: Donovan Williams (QB), Qyayvon Skanes (WR), Cameron DeGeorge (OL), Tahj Herring (DB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Navy, Virginia, Syracuse, @Houston, Cincinnati, Temple, @Boston College

Predicted Record (for 2016): 4-8 (3-5)

7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane


Last Year’s Record: 6-7 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Independence Bowl vs. Virginia Tech

Head Coach: Philip Montgomery (6-7 at Tulsa)

Top Returning Players: Dane Evans (QB), D’Angelo Brewer (RB), Keevan Lucas (WR), Josh Atkinson (WR), Blake Belcher (OT), Willie Wright (OG), Jeremy Smith (DE), Trent Martin (LB), Matt Linscott (LB), Jeremy Brady (S)

Top Incoming Players: Deya Mhiesen (OL), Rowdy Frederick (OL)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Ohio State, @Houston, @Memphis, @Navy, Cincinnati

Predicted Record (for 2016): 6-6 (3-5)

6. USF Bulls


Last Year’s Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Miami Beach Bowl vs. WKU

Head Coach: Willie Taggart (14-23 at USF)

Top Returning Players: Quinton Flowers (QB), Marlon Mack (RB), Rodney Adams (WR), Elkanah Dillon (TE), Kofi Amichia (OT), Dominique Threatt (OG), Deadrin Senat (DT), Auggie Sanchez (LB), Deatrick Nichols (DB), Tajee Fullwood (PR), Alex Salvato (LS)

Top Incoming Players: Chris Oladokun (QB), Elijah Mack (RB), Darnell Salomon (WR), Christion Gainer (OL), Tramal Ivy (DL), LaDarrius Jackson (DL), Mi’Cario Stanley (LB), Craig Watts (DB), Josh Dunn (DB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Northern Illinois, @Syracuse, Florida State, @Cincinnati, @Temple, Navy, @Memphis

Predicted Record (for 2016): 6-6 (4-4)

5. Memphis Tigers


Last Year’s Record: 9-4 (5-3)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Birmingham Bowl vs. Auburn

Head Coach: Mike Norvell (0-0 at Memphis)

Top Returning Players: Anthony Miller (WR), Drew Kyser (C), Gabe Kuhn (OT), Jackson Dillon (DE), Genard Avery (LB), Jake Elliott (K), Spencer Smith (P), Trevor Morgan (PR)

Top Incoming Players: Riley Ferguson (QB), David Moore (QB), Lio Lafaele (OL), Harneet Gill (DL), John Tate (DL), Tim Hart (LB), Jonathan Cook (DB), Josh Perry (DB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Bowling Green, @Ole Miss, Temple, @Navy, @Cincinnati, Houston

Predicted Record (for 2016): 7-5 (4-4)

4. Houston Cougars


Last Year’s Record: 13-1 (7-1)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Peach Bowl vs. Florida State

Head Coach: Tom Herman (13-1 at Houston)

Top Returning Players: Greg Ward (QB), Duke Catalon (RB), Isaiah Johnson (WR), Will Noble (C), Cameron Malveaux (DE), B.J. Singleton (DT), Nick Thurman (DE), Steven Taylor (LB), Tyus Bowser (LB), Matthew Adams (LB), Brandon Wilson (DB)

Top Incoming Players: D’Eriq King (QB), Bowman Sells (QB), Mulbah Car (RB), Courtney Lark (WR), Keith Corbin (WR), Na’Ty Rodgers (OL), Keenan Murphy (OL), Ed Oliver (DL), Collin Wilder (DB), J.J. Dallas (DB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Oklahoma, @Cincinnati, @Navy, Louisville, @Memphis

Predicted Record (for 2016): 9-3 (7-1)


3. Cincinnati Bearcats


Last Year’s Record: 7-6 (4-4)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Hawaii Bowl vs. San Diego State

Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville (25-14 at Cincinnati)

Top Returning Players: Gunner Kiel (QB), Mike Boone (RB), Avery Peterson (WR), D.J. Dowdy (TE), Deyshawn Boyd (C), Ryan Leahy (OG), Alex Pace (DT), Eric Wilson (LB), Zach Edwards (S), Andrew Gantz (K), Sam Geraci (P)

Top Incoming Players: Jake Sopko (QB), Gerrid Doaks (RB), Tyquan Statham (RB), Bruno Labelle (TE), Zach Bycznski (OL), Kendall Calhoun (OL)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Houston, @Temple, BYU, Memphis

Predicted Record (for 2016): 10-2 (7-1)


2. Navy Midshipmen


Last Year’s Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Military Bowl vs. Pittsburgh

Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (68-37 at Navy)

Top Returning Players: Shawn White (RB), Jamir Tillman (WR), Adam West (OG), Andrew Wood (OT), Amos Mason (DE), Micah Thomas (LB), Daniel Gonzales (LB), Josiah Powell (LB), Brenden Clements (CB), Daiquan Thomas (S), Dishan Romine (KR), Josh Antol (LS)

Top Incoming Players: U.S. Military Academy prohibits the names of recruit-cadet athletes being released until right before the season starts.

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Air Force, Houston, Memphis. Notre Dame

AAC Championship Game: vs. Temple (L)

Predicted Record (for 2016): 10-3 (7-1)


1. Temple Owls


Last Year’s Record: 10-4 (7-1)

Last Year’s Bowl Game: Boca Raton Bowl vs. Toledo

Head Coach: Matt Rhule (18-20 at Temple)

Top Returning Players: Jahad Thomas (RB), Ryquell Armstead (RB), Ventell Bryant (WR), Colin Thompson (TE), Dion Dawkins (OT), Jovahn Fair (OG), Praise Martin-Oguike (DE), Haason Reddick (DE), Avery Williams (LB), Derrek Thomas (CB), Sean Chandler (S), Delvon Randall (S), Austin Jones (K), Corey Lerch (LS)

Top Incoming Players: Anthony Russo (QB), Branden Mack (QB), Tyliek Raynor (RB), Isaiah Wright (WR), Kenny Yeboah (TE), Steve Petrick (TE), Karamo Dioubate (DL), Keyvone Bruton (DB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Penn State, @Memphis, Cincinnati

AAC Championship Game: vs. Cincinnati (W)

Predicted Record (for 2016): 12-1 (8-0)

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