CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: American Athletic Conference Rankings
The 2017 CFN Preview ranking of all the American Athletic Conference teams.
Where do the American Athletic Conference teams rank going into the season? This is NOT a ranking of how the teams are projected or predicted to finish. This is a ranking of how good they all appear to be going into the fall.
Preview 2017: American Athletic Rankings
Randy Edsall has plenty of work to do to jumpstart a woeful offense and find the good again on defense. The linebacking corps is the team’s strength, and there’s a good group of defensive backs, but the O needs to find some pop.
The Green Wave could and should be better than this if the option attack starts rolling like it’s supposed to under head coach Willie Fritz. The running backs are good enough to make it all go, and the defense will be anchored by a fantastic secondary, but there are still plenty of missing pieces.
The passing game might be just good enough to keep up the pace with anyone on the schedule – WR Courtland Sutton might be the league’s best player. But will the defense be able to do enough on a consistent basis to hold up its end of the bargain? It’ll be okay, but not strong enough to be in the mix for the AAC title.
9. East Carolina
The addition of Duke transfer QB Thomas Sirk should help – if he can stay healthy. The receiving corps is still great – even without Zay Jones – and the offense will be fine, but will the defense be any better? It’ll be experienced, and there’s upside in the secondary, but the Pirates will have to bomb their way to wins.
The Midshipmen have to reload. The coaching staff is still sensational, and the system still works, but running backs have to emerge around QB Zach Abey. They will, but are there any gamebreaking receivers to make things happen when defenses are busy focusing on the ground game? Are the lines going to be good enough? There will be a step back, but it’s Navy – it won’t fall too far.
The defending American Athletic Conference champs have too many obstacles to overcome to repeat, but they’ll still be strong under head coach Geoff Collins. The receiving corps will be a plus, and the secondary might be the best in the conference, but the lines will be just okay compared to last season. Fortunately, like last year, beat USF, and there’s a shot to take the East.
Are the Knights really going to be better in Scott Frost’s second season? They didn’t really beat anyone with a pulse last year, but the talent is there – especially on the defensive front – to do more. The pass rush should be great, the linebacking corps a killer, and the offense has just enough talent and experience to be more consistent.
QB Riley Ferguson leads another big-time offense with a strong backfield and a dominant receiving corps that should be among the league’s best. The linebackers are talented, the special teams are among the league’s best, and head coach Mike Norvell is a rising star. If the D line is a plus, the Tigers could end up in the AAC title game.
Yeah, the main parts of the passing game might be gone, but everything else is there. The offensive line will be the best in the league, the defensive front is full of future all-stars, and the secondary is in place to hold up in shootouts. As long as the quarterback situation is settled, look out.
Luke Fickell takes over a potential monster of a team. It was a monster of an underachiever last season, but the pieces are there to make a huge turnaround right away. Fickell is a defensive coach, and he’s got the parts with the league’s best linebacking corps, a loaded defensive line, and enough veteran playmakers on offense to hang with anyone in the conference.
Major Applewhite has a great defensive line around Ed Oliver on the inside, an interesting group of quarterbacks, and a linebacking corps good enough to take over games. The rest of the holes – the running backs, the secondary – should be filled in quickly, but the team isn’t as good as last year’s version. Whatever – last year’s version didn’t play for the AAC championship.
This was the league’s best team last year – it just forgot to actually win the conference title – and it should be again. Or, at the very least, it’ll be among the league’s top three. Charlie Strong should take what Willie Taggart put in place and make it even better – but it’s hardly a given USF will dominate the conference.
It helps to have a quarterback like Quinton Flowers to run the offense, and a linebacker like Auggie Sanchez to handle the D. The defense, though, might not be as strong as Cincinnati’s or Houston’s, and the offense needs the receiving corps and line to be sensational.