2016 CollegeFootballNews.com Midseason Top American Athletic Conference Players, Coaches, Rankings, Games, Surprise & Disappointments
2016 American Athletic Midseason Roundup & Analysis
It’s not the big, splashy year of 2015 – when the league cranked up by upset after big upset – and the Houston loss to Navy killed any hopes of getting into the College Football Playoff, but it’s been a solid season. At the very least, this appears to be the best of the Group of 5 leagues over the first half.
South Florida has been terrific and UCF has bounced back in a hurry under first year head coach Scott Frost making the East competitive. Now it’s Game On for the West after the Navy win over the Cougars. Memphis has been good enough to look ready to make a big run, and Tulsa is dangerous, but the goal now – to be selfish for the league – is for Houston to roll through the rest of its slate. Go 12-1, and there might be a second straight New Year’s Six slot.
American Athletic Midseason Offensive Player
QB Greg Ward, Sr. Houston
He might have had an overall bad day against Navy, but he’s been a dominant offensive machine all season long hitting 69% of his passes for 1,684 yards and 11 touchdowns with four picks, while running for 272 yards and six scores.
American Athletic Midseason Defensive Player
LB Stephen Taylor, Sr. Houston
The heart-and-soul leader of the tremendous Cougar defense, Taylor might not have the raw tackle numbers, but he leads the conference with 5.5 sacks with six tackles for loss, 27 tackles, and a key pick six to get by Cincinnati. He’s the disruptive force on a defense full of them.
American Athletic Midseason Top 10 Players
1. QB Greg Ward, Sr. Houston
2. QB Philip Nelson, Sr. East Carolina
3. RB D’Angelo Brewer, Jr. Tulsa
4. LB Stephen Taylor, Sr. Houston
5. RB Marlon Mack, Jr. USF
6. WR Zay Jones, Sr. East Carolina
7. QB Riley Ferguson, Jr. Memphis
8. LB Eric Wilson, Sr. Cincinnati
9. CB Jordan Wyatt, Soph. SMU
10. DE Haason Reddick, Sr. Temple
American Athletic Midseason Coach Rankings
1. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
2. Tom Herman, Houston
3. Willie Taggart, USF
4. Scott Frost, UCF
5. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa
6. Mike Norvell, Memphis
7. Bob Diaco, Connecticut
8. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
9. Willie Fritz, Tulane
10. Matt Rhule, Temple
11. Chad Morris, SMU
12. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
American Athletic Midseason Best Games
1. Navy 46, Houston 40, Oct. 8
2. Tulsa 48, Fresno State 41, OT, Sept. 24
3. Tulane 41, Louisiana-Lafayette 39, 4OT, Sept. 24
American Athletic Midseason Best Surprise
East Carolina QB Philip Nelson. After a slew of problems at Minnesota on and off the field, he’s rebounded to become one of the nation’s most accurate playmakers. The team sputtered over the last few weeks, and Nelson is banged up, but he was red hot over the first few games getting the ECU O moving.
American Athletic Midseason Biggest Disappointment
Navy 46, Houston 40. The groundswell of support and excitement were building after Houston’s big win over Oklahoma to start the season, and the College Football Playoff chase was on with Louisville coming up. All that washed away in the rain as the Cougars couldn’t hit the Navy option offense curveball.
American Athletic Midseason – We Were Right On …
UCF. The talent was there, but after a disastrous winless season, the program needed a shot in the arm. Scott Frost provided just that on the way to a 3-2 start to get into the AAC East race.
American Athletic Midseason – We Were Wrong On …
Cincinnati. Everyone came into the season in love with Houston, but Cincinnati had the pieces in place to be right there in the hunt for not just the West, but for the whole conference championship and possible a New Year’s Six appearance. Nope. The Bearcats went 2-4 over the first six weeks including a fourth-quarter meltdown against the Cougars.