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2017 American Athletic Football Predictions

College Football

2017 American Athletic Football Predictions: Who Wins?

A Strong chance for USF.

Will the South Florida Bulls rule in our 2017 American Athletic football predictions?

Out goes Willie Taggart and in comes Charlie Strong, erstwhile coach of the Texas Longhorns. Things never worked out for Strong in Austin, but in Tampa, he’s handed a team with a respectable chance at a conference title. Unlike Texas, this is not a rebuild job. How he does against the other top contenders in the AAC is still up for debate.

South Florida was not the winner of this conference last season: that was Temple. First, it appeared Houston was an AAC winner and a College Football Playoff contender. Then, Navy had the inside track. Finally, Temple knocked out the Midshipmen, and then they lost their coach. That’s how things go in a Group of Five conference.

Several high-profile coaches are out of the American Athletic. New faces, like Charlie Strong, are in. How will they guide their teams through the chaos of college football this season?

2017 American Athletic Football Predictions: But First, The Preseason Poll

East Division
1. South Florida Bulls
2. Central Florida Knights
3. Temple Owls
4. Cincinnati Bearcats
5. East Carolina Pirates
6. Connecticut Huskies

West Division
1. Memphis Grizzlies
2. Houston Cougars
3. Navy Midshipmen
4. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
5. SMU Mustangs
6. Tulane Green Wave

With 26 of 30 votes, South Florida was the projected winner of the conference title game.

2017 American Athletic Football Predictions: Teams To Watch

South Florida won 11 games last season, but came up a tiebreaker short of the conference championship game. They were the only AAC team to finish 2016 ranked. What is in store for 2017, except people suspecting an undefeated season? No pressure, guys.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers had a nice season in 2016 on both the ground and in the air. Accounting for over 4,300 yards will get you noticed no matter where you are. He’s going to keep that offense moving, and if the USF defense improves, look out. This could be the Western Michigan of 2017 if all holds together.

Memphis scored well in the preseason poll, a heavy favorite to win the West. Because they don’t play USF, people like their chances. However, Navy and Houston remain hard contests for the Tigers. Those back-to-back games on a short week could make or break their season. Expect further consistency out of Riley Ferguson at quarterback for this improving team.

The question exists of what Temple has to offer in the post-Matt Rhule era. Getting back to the conference title game will be a monumental effort, considering USF stands in the way. That game in Tampa in September could settle the division before the halfway point. Temple will miss key players like Haason Reddick, taken early in the 2017 NFL Draft. They also look young at the quarterback position, as well as on the offensive line.

And what does Houston do after all they went through last season? They rode a rollercoaster, from the Top 5 to a slump and losing their coach. Houston still has Ed Oliver, one of the best defensive tackles around who is on a bunch of preseason watch lists (as if those hold weight).

2017 American Athletic Football Predictions: Our East Picks

1. South Florida Bulls
2. Temple Owls
3. Central Florida Knights
4. East Carolina Pirates
5. Cincinnati Bearcats
6. Connecticut Huskies

2017 American Athletic Football Predictions: Our West Picks

1. Houston Cougars
2. Navy Midshipmen
3. Memphis Tigers
4. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
5. SMU Mustangs
6. Tulane Green Wave

At the start of the season and all thereafter, see the college football bowl projections.

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