- While the media days in Newport Rhode Island were going on they had their annual vote for the preseason favorite in the conference. Each member of the media who is a part of the poll gets a vote there were 30 votes cast. First, each of the 30 would cast a vote for each team and where they will finish in the division. If they pick you to finish 1st that is worth 6 points 2nd is worth 5 points and so on. Once they have decided the division winners the will then vote for the overall winner. In the Western Division, the first place votes were split as follows, 22 votes to Memphis, 6 to Houston, 1 to Navy and 1 to Tulsa. So as it shook out Memphis finished 1st, Houston 2nd, Navy 3rd, Tulsa 4th, SMU 5th and Tulane predicted to finish last. Moving over to the Eastern Division USF was predicted by all 30 votes to win the division, UCF was predicted to finish 2nd, Temple 3rd, Cincinnati 4th, East Carolina 5th and UConn last. In the overall championship, USF once again dominated with 26 out of the 30 votes of winning the Conference title. The other 4 votes were split between Houston, Memphis, and Navy.
USF finished last season ranked 19 nationally and hence the reason they were installed as the favorite to win the Division and the Conference Title. The only problem I can see happening is they get over confident and have multiple let down games. If they can play with the same attitude they did last season then they will be just fine going into the matchup on Black Friday against UCF as that may decide the outcome of the Eastern Division.
UCF if not for the fact that USF was picked to win the East the Knights would have been the sexy pick to win the East. They return 14 starters and hope to give rivals USF a run for the title.
Temple with back to back 10 win season could be a dark horse but new head coach Geoff Collins has a tough task of replacing a lot of veteran players.
Cincinnati New Head coach Luke Fickell formerly of Ohio State has the best chance of making some noise this year as he returns 11 starters including QB Hayden Moore and 2 of their top 3 WRs.
East Carolina lost Zay Jones who set the NCAA record in a single season and career receptions. Second Year coach Scottie Montgomery is looking to get ECU back to bowl eligible.
Uconn Welcomes back a familiar face in Randy Edsall who coached for 12 years for UConn. He hopes to get them back to their 2010 form when they made a Fiesta Bowl Appearance.
Memphis The Tigers return 17 starters from a season ago and were the trending pick to win the West Division. They return QB Riley Ferguson who threw an AAC leading 32 TDs last year and WR Anthony Miller who is a deep threat. He finished with 95 catches for 1434 Yards and 14 TDs.
Houston Major Applewhite takes on this team as his first head coaching position. He won 22 games as Offensive Coordinator and now takes a role as Head Coach. Houston returns star DT Edward Oliver who set a conference record with 23 tackles for loss as a freshman. He will for sure be a force to be reckoned with.
Navy It’s hard to think that Navy will not be around to contend for the division as they have either won or shared the division title since moving to the AAC 2 years ago. They have gone 14-2 in the conference during their 2 seasons. They return 9 starters from last year and will as always have a potent running game.
Tulsa this team has reached 10 wins for the 5 time in the last 10 seasons, its time to take them as a serious contender. They return 3 all conference offensive lineman, which will help 1400 yard rusher D’Angelo Brewer.
SMU improved by 3 wins from 2015 to 2016 and missed bowl eligibility by 1 win. They have some of the tallest and biggest defensive linemen in the game. They will be a formidable opponent this year and should not be taken lightly.
Tulane returns 17 starters from last season and is hoping for a good turn around from last season to this season. Usually, Willie Fritz’s teams improve by 2-3 wins in his second year he will be looking for that trend to continue.