CFB 2021: American Athletic Conference Preview

by Scott Rickenbach

CFB 2021 Season Preview – AAC – Quick Hitters by Team

Cincinnati – Bearcats look strong again. Class of the conference. Amazing defense expected again.

East Carolina – Pirates might be slightly improved. Likely to continue to run the ball more. Now have had more time with more of a normal off-season to work in new schemes on defense too. 

Houston – Cougars will be improved but some concerns at the skill positions on offense. Defense continuing to improve. Different style of Houston team than the high-scoring aerial attack years. 

Memphis – Poised for a drop-off. Lost a lot of players. Also, run game has struggled and now with question marks at quarterback the run game will be even more of a concern. 

Navy – Have had an up and down pattern in recent years but this truly looks like another down season is likely to follow last year’s disappointment. Tough schedule and just not the same talent level at quarterback. 

SMU – The Mustangs could be solid again. I like their defense and their coaching staff on that side of the ball. Question mark will be a new quarterback on offense and how he meshes with this team. 

Temple – The Owls have fallen to the bottom again. Problems are mounting with constant coaching changes and now player transfers and plus only about 5 starters expected back on each side of the ball. 

Tulane –New coordinators and so some growing pains but with time it should pay off. Key question is whether freshman quarterback will thrive in this system. Green Wave likely to be a .500 team. 

Tulsa – Strong defense. Off amazing 6-0 season in AAC action. However, lost some key assistants from the coaching staff. Most starters do return though so it should be a solid season in 2021. 

UCF – Central Florida has a new head coach and new coordinators plus lost a lot of starters on defense. But coach Malzahn has a talented quarterback to work with and there is still a lot of talent on this team. The one true challenger to the Bearcats in this conference. 

USF – South Florida should improve as they are in the 2nd year under coach Scott and now get more of a regular off-season to prepare. Last season was very tough on teams with new coaches as the off-season was so disjointed. This team still has quite a way to go though and will be in rebuild mode this year. Quarterback is a solid talent but, on other side of the ball, lost about half the starters on defense.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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