Saying the American conference just seems wrong. Then again, the Big East royally fucked everything up so you have to give them credit for ruining a (relatively) good thing. Anyway…
The Big American East Athletic Conference seriously wonders why they were left out in the cold? Like seriously? What team in this hodge-podge of a conference evokes a lot of fear in anyone? It seems like every other poor (FBS) conference has a team that could make a shit-ton of noise this year. This conference? Not so much. Amazingly enough, once Navy joins next year, this conference will all of a sudden look a whole lot better and have the golden ticket…a conference championship game. That seems to elevate a conference for some reason. If you don’t think so, look at the shit the Big XII takes from the college football world for not having one. Anyway, another rant I need to end now. Prediction time.
- Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0 conference, 10-2 overall) – If there is any team in this conference that seems complete enough to sneak their way into the College Football Playoff Spectacular El Fantastico, it’s the Bearcats. Great head coach and a QB named Gunner. What could go wrong? How about Ohio State and Miami for starters.
- East Carolina Pirates (7-1 conference, 9-3 overall) – First season in the former Big East and the Pirates are expecting big things. The Carden & Hardy show is no comedy routine and they should absolutely shred most of the defenses in the American. Their slim chances of getting into the CFP Festival probably come down to November 13th in Cincinnati.
- UCF Knights (7-1 conference, 9-3 overall) – There is no way UCF can replace Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson this season. That being said, they are the deepest team in the conference and they don’t have to play Cincy. However, with Penn State and BYU on the non-conference sked and a trip to Greenville to face the Pirates, this won’t be as easy as last season for the Fighting O’Learys.
- SMU Mustangs (5-3 conference, 6-6 overall) – The June Jones Experience rolls on in Dallas…kind of. Roll is such a strong word unless the tires are underinflated. This team should be awesome on offense, not just pretty good. June Jones’ staple is pass-happy insanity and they haven’t quite had it in MustangLand. Maybe they should just start playing in the spring instead.
- Houston Cougars (5-3 conference, 8-4 overall) – New stadium and a new hope in Houston. Unfortunately, the Cougs don’t have the kindest of schedules as they get UCF and Cincy and play BYU in the non-conference sked (it seems like BYU plays almost everyone this season). They will go bowling this season but wait until next year as John O’Korn matures at QB and they contend for a league title.
- Tulane Green Wave (4-4 conference, 5-7 overall) – Talk about a shock last season. To see Tulane (TULANE!!?!!??!!?) in a bowl game seemed like an LSD-induced dream. Having them almost knock off the Ragin Cajuns in New Orleans was even crazier. Curtis Johnson has this team on the right track but I expect a step back this year, mainly due to their non-conference schedule. Their chances at a bowl might actually come down to a game early on when they travel to New Jersey to play Rutgers.
- Memphis Tigers (3-5 conference, 4-8 overall) – This program just can’t seem to get back over the hump. It’s like they’re stuck at 4 wins. Like a Bizarro World Bo Pelini. Doesn’t help that they don’t get a break almost anywhere on their entire schedule. If they somehow make it to a bowl, they will have earned it.
- Temple Owls (2-6 conference, 3-9 overall) – I figured that the Owls would be one of the upper tier teams in the American once realignment took its course. All they’ve done is watched Houston and SMU pass them and they will watch East Carolina, Tulane, and probably Memphis pass them as well. When Navy joins next season it will just get worse for a team that was kicked out of this conference (kinda sorta) years ago.
- USF Bulls (1-7 conference, 2-10 overall) – Poor Willie Taggart. It appeared to the naked eye that he was coming into a decent situation at USF. Unfortunately, it has been the exact opposite for the former WKU head coach. He is banking on his strong recruiting skills to get this program back on track. He may not have a whole lot of time to show some tangible results as his seat just keeps getting hotter.
- Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-7 conference, 2-10 overall) – Another one of the chic picks to have a turnaround season, I just can’t see how Tulsa can climb the ladder in their new conference when there are other teams that have passed them by. And it’s not like their schedule is really brutal this season but it’s tough enough for a team that lacks depth. Next year should be the year they make their move up the standings but it won’t happen this year.
- Connecticut Huskies (1-7 conference, 3-9 overall) – Poor Bob Diaco. He’s being touted as a quasi-savior in Storrs that will bring the Huskies back to contending in this conference. He is a brilliant defensive mind who should, at least, start the process of shoring up the Huskies brutal defense. But they are at least two years and a good recruiting class or two away from contending. Let’s hope administration at UConn gives Diaco that chance.
No conference championship for the American conference but that ends this season. Next year, Navy joins the fold, we get a conference championship and a chance for a conference team to play their way into the CFP Bowlarama (or play their way out of it as so many teams have before in the old BCS). Cincinnati has come up as a pick by a few magazines and experts as the Poor Group of Five pick to go play with the big boys in January. As good as they are, and even though I also have them winning this conference, there is no way they can compete with what Marshall’s resume will be this season, especially with the difference in schedules; the Bearcats have a pretty competitive schedule whereas the Herd have a joke of a schedule. That will be the difference.