By Antwaun Sumpter
The American Athletic Conference Aka the American is a Conference that was a surprise last season by having three teams in the Top 25. The addition of the Naval Academy has been a big boost for The American. In 2016 this Conference will continue to grow and become one of those non-power conferences that has the potential to have a team sneak into the College Football Playoff picture.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are a team that is in the middle-of-the-road type offense. You don’t know what you are going to get from QB Gunner Keil, who was injured last season. An earlier season matchup with the Houston Cougars in Nippert Stadium will show us what type of team the Bearcats will be.
The Connecticut Huskies may have another 6-6 season ahead of them. All five of their road games are going to be tough, at Navy, at Houston, at South Florida, at East Carolina, at Boston College. Sure, they can win those games BUT it will be tough. If the Huskies can establish their running attack they can probably save the Huskies and steal a few games.
For new Head Coach Scottie Montgomery and the East Carolina Pirates he will try to implicate what he did as offensive coordinator at Duke. Scottie Montgomery has really changed that Duke offensive around and if he can do it in Greenville, he will have the Pirates going bowling.
The Houston Cougars now have a target on their backs now after having a Cinderella season 2015 which resulted in a victory over the Florida State Seminoles in the Peach Bowl. A lot is expected for Head Coach Tom Herman and the Cougars in 2016 and its starts in Week One when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners. If the Cougars can duplicate what they did in 2015, Cougar nation WILL be in the College Football Playoff.
The post Justin Fuente Paxton Lynch era begins in Memphis. The Tigers lost their QB and Head Coach. But new head coach Mike Norvell he can bring back Tigers, who finished with a record of 9-3 in 2015. The Tigers have somewhat of an easy schedule to say the least that they can have a decent record and make it to a bowl game.
The Navy Midshipman made their debut in the American Conference a HUGE success. The Midshipman were one game away from making it to the Conference Championship Game. Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo has the right scheme for the Midshipman and it seems to be working. Now the question is how steps up in place of Kenan Reynolds at QB. If the Navy can find their QB the Midshipman might win the American Conference in 2016.
For the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, it was a 2015 they would like to forget. They had a record of 2-10 and they had struggled all over the field. The only way is up for SMU, but it starts when their QB. Can he provide the spark on offense for the Mustangs to make some noise and become spoilers?
The South Florida Bulls under head coach Willie Taggert are heading in the right direction. He has changed the culture in Tampa and its showing on the field. Willie Taggert coaching will be put to the test on September 24th when Florida State comes to Tampa. The Bulls sure enough can pull off the upset, but it comes down to the play calling of the Head Coach.
The Temple Owls started off the season at 7-0, by far the best start for the Owls in a long time. Then they hit a speed bump and limped to the finish line. The schedule for the Owls is in their favor and should be in the conversation again.
Let’s just say that it wasn’t a good year for the Tulane Green Wave last year. They finished with a record of 3-9 with resulted in the firing of the Head Coach. Willie Fritz brings that mentality that they are going to be tough. They also can become spoilers in the AAC with Navy and Temple both coming to New Orleans. Tulane may be a young team, but they are a dangerous team they can break a team’s heart in the AAC.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are in store for a tough AAC in 2016. For the Golden Hurricane to emerge as the front runners and surprise the AAC they are going to need to win against Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Central Florida all on the road. If they can pull off two out of the four victories here the Golden Hurricane will have something to look forward to in 2017.
Let’s face it, the Central Florida Knights had a very TERRIBLE year in 2015, going 0-12. That must change and will change in 2016. It starts in Week Two, September 10th, when they travel to Ann Arbor, MI. Also with road games at Connecticut and at Houston could be tough games BUT winnable games. If the Knights come out with at least a 6-6 record in 2016 the Knights will gladly sign up for that.
The American Athletic Conference is going to be a Conference where you will see some surprises in it. Do not be surprised again that one of these teams here will be playing in the one of the New Year’s Eve or Day Big Six games. This is the conference that everyone needs to keep their eye on.
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