The AAC has been, per SP+, the best conference in the Group of 5 for six of the seven years of the College Football Playoff era. For the past two years, it has graded out closer to the worst power conference than any other G5 entity.
The star power of the best teams is obviously one reason for this — Cincinnati finished eighth last season, UCF and Memphis 14th and 17th, respectively, in 2019 — but compared to the rest of the G5, the AAC doesn’t produce a ton of dead weight either. Only two teams ranked in the triple digits last year, compared to four for the MWC and Sun Belt, five for the MAC and seven for Conference USA.
Will that remain the case in 2021? In today’s look at the bottom half of the AAC — teams ranked sixth through 11th, according to SP+ — we will still discuss plenty of upside, especially from Houston, Tulane and perhaps ECU. But Temple, USF and Navy have quite a bit more to prove than usual.
Every week through the summer, Bill Connelly will preview another division from the Group of 5 and Power 5 exclusively for ESPN+, ultimately including all 130 FBS teams. The previews will include 2020 breakdowns, 2021 previews and a brief history of each team in one handy chart. The series has thus far covered the Conference USA East and West, the MAC East and West, the MWC Mountain and West and the Sun Belt West and East.
What can we learn from a season in which a team’s lineup changes constantly, and its first-string never sees the field intact? Not much, Temple hopes.