Everyone likes a good underdog, Right? The American Athletic Conference has taken
college football by storm the past few seasons as its self acclaimed “Power 6” conference. With a continuous appearance in New Year Six Bowls from the front leader the Knights of UCF, the conference has continued to produce high quality football teams
including USF, Memphis, Houston, and Cincinnati. Although the “National Champions”
of 2018 UCF have continued to control the conference the past two season, the injury of
AAC Offensive Player of the year QB Mckenzie Milton has left room for other teams to
potentially take control of the league. Throughout the season, there are a few key
games that could determine who gets to dance on December 7.
Top 5 Conference Games for the AAC:
1.UCF @ Cinncinati, October 4
Former Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell has delivered exactly what he
was supposed to. The Bearcats allowed 158 fewer points in their 2018 season than
2017, thanks to Fickell’s defensive mind. With seven of their starting defensive players
returning this season, scoring against the Bearcats could be difficult. The Bearcats take
on the reigning Conference Champions on October 4 at home in what could be a
season altering game for both teams. With a combination of UCF’s QB Darriel Mack
injury and the chance of returning before then slim, the Bearcats stand a solid chance in
taking down the 2018 “National Champs”.
2. USF @ UCF, November 29
In what is becoming a rivalry as big as Alabama and Auburn (well maybe not AS big..yet), the Bulls take on the Knights in the Bounce House again this season in attempts to revenge their 2 gaming losing streak. With also 7 Defensive starters returning and one of the best Tight Ends in college football, Mitchell Wilcox, they may get exactly that. If the Bulls can make it through an October of away games and the bullies of the conference (Temple, Cinncinati, and Memphis) all in Tampa, the Bulls might just have enough momentum to win the East. Although USF has been the King of mediocrity in recent seasons, this could be a great time for de-throning of the champs.
3. Cincinnati @ Memphis, November 29
Mike Norvell’s offense has been explosive over the last three seasons. But is it enough to hold up against Cinncinati’s Defense? With two of the Tiger’s 3-star running backs now tearing up the NFL, Brady White will have to step up his passing game to stand up against the Bearcats. With this being one of the only 6 home games the Tigers have this season and with no UCF thorn in their side, the Tigers are likely to find themselves for a three-peat in winning the West if they can make it past the Bearcats and their unstoppable Defense.
4.Houston @ UCF, November 2
With QB D’Eriq King returning after his knee injury, the Cougar’s Offense accompanied by WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston’s defense is going to be fun to watch. However, with the defensive hole that Ed Oliver left, the Cougars could find themselves in a pickle in the event of Darriel Mack’s return prior to November 2. Regardless, this Cougars team should be more impressive than last season.
5. Memphis @ Houston, November 16
You can’t win a game if you don’t score points. And that is exactly what the Cougars are going to do. If the Tigers can hold off the Cougars offense, they might beat the Cougars in Houston; but it won’t be easy. With Houston picked in multiple polls to win the American and the need for revenge of the Tigers 3 game winning streak, this might be the toughest away game of the season for the Norvell’s Tigers. With all the changes in the conference in the offseason, the AAC could be very unpredictable this season. These five games are the stepping stones of achieving the ultimate goal this season: The Championship Trophy.