College football Fans we are getting closer to the start of the 2021 season and the anticipation is killing us. I will start out by doing a preview and predictions for the American Athletic Conference. Which was last year, was won by Cincinnati Bearcats and who seemingly are the favorites this season. UCF starts out the Gus Malzahn era, USF enters its second season under Head Coach Jeff Scott and Tulsa looks to build on a 6-0 conference campaign last year that saw them win nine games total.
First and foremost, Cincinnati starts four spots away from the CFP which is huge for the conference. I mean even UCF, who finished undefeated in 2017 didn’t start the next season as high as Cincinnati. So, the good news is that if they win out they will have a legitimate shot at the CFP. The question is can they run the table?
Their schedule is weak to start but then in October, there are 2 games in 14 days that will decide whether or not they will run the table. The first is October 2nd in South Bend against Notre Dame and the second is at home against UCF. I am not pushing off Indiana though, as I just feel this year will be a letdown for them.
UCF opens with fellow Group of Five heavyweight in Boise State in a nationally-televised game in the Bounce House, and has a relatively calm schedule for Gus Malzahn’s first season. I feel like that October 16th game up north in Nippert Stadium is going to decide who is representing the AAC, although they still could meet each other in the conference championship game.
Ultimately, whatever happens in the UCF/Cincinnati game is going to only determine who finishes first and who finishes second in the conference.
Key Breakout Players: UCF Ryan O’Keefe, Tulane Michael Pratt, SMU Ulysses Bentley IV, Navy Xaiver Arline, and Cincinnati’s Josh Whyle.
Offensive Player of the Year: UCF Dillon Gabriel
Defensive Player of the Year: Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders
Conference Title: UCF