2018 AAC college football projections on the Hour Glass
2017 was the year of the underdog, as Central Florida made headline after headline, going undefeated and taking care of Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl. The Knights run was one to remember; as well as a 2017 season that brought us a dominating Group of Five team left out of the playoff, and UCF awarding themselves with a National Championship.
Central Florida’s run has kept not only the Knights, but G5 football in the news in the offseason and as we expand to cover all 130 teams and 10 conferences in 2018, it just made sense to start with the AAC, when talking non Power Five leagues, as the AAC is the premiere G5 league.
Many have made the comparison to the BIG12 and honestly when you look at the talent, coaching and quarterback play – the AAC isn’t that far off.
Scott Frost left Central Florida for home in Nebraska, leaving Josh Heupel keys to a well-oiled machine. Sonny Dykes takes over at SMU and several established coaches and quarterbacks return for 2018.
The AAC could have as many as seven teams bowling in 2018, and to be exact, we think seven actually will. The conference is 12 teams deep and while there are some bottom feeders here, like in most conferences, the meat of the conference is super competitive.
2018 AAC Power Rankings:
Central Florida is still a touchdown favorite over even the best of teams in this conference, but when you talk about teams like Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati and more - this conference is a fun one to watch.
While we expect big things out of Central Florida again in 2018, don't look for the Knights to go undefeated. They play a three week stretch of at North Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Pittsburgh that is probably to much to ask to navigate unscathed.
Heupel may be the next big thing in coaching, but there will be a learning curve. Speaking of coaches, here is how we ranked the AAC ball coaches in 2018.
All Ken Niumatalolo does is win at Navy, but to win at a high level at a military academy is a lot to ask. Mike Norvell, surprisingly didn't get hired away from Memphis so he is back with another great squad in the Tigers.
Charlie Strong continues to reset his career at South Florida and Major Applewhite looks to continue a rich tradition of winning at Houston. But - talent wins on most days so who has the most talent on our three year trend in the AAC?
Glad you asked:
Believe it or not, Houston does - which bodes well for Applewhite in the future. Cincinnati has quietly moved up the scale in the AAC and now has as much talent if not just a tad more than even Central Florida. Back to Navy, they are in the lower half, but schematics and coaching really elevate their program.
As always quarterback play is a huge deal in college football and Central Florida returns one of the best in the country in McKenzie Milton. Milton will give the Knights a chance every week in 2018, and he will go up against some good ones in this league.
Ben Hicks at SMU will give the Mustangs a chance to beat a lot of people and Hayden Moore at Cincinnati has a chance to be one of the league's better quarterbacks. D'eriq King of Houston falls right on our national average quarterback average line at 8.3. If he can elevate his game, he may take Houston to a conference championship.
We are proud to be covering the Group of Five in 2018, and this conference is going to be a fun one to watch. Central Florida and Boise State should be the class of G5, and with any luck, one or the other could again make the College Football Playoff committee talk about them again in 2018.
Our projected win totals and conference finish for the American Athletic Conference: