American Athletic Conference Team Season Grades
AAC Season Grade: B
Cincinnati got to the New Year’s Six – keeping a good run going for the conference to get into the high-profile game – but the league totally bombed its bowl season when it had a chance to make a splash. The rise of Tulsa was fun, Memphis, UCF and SMU brought the offense, and there were plenty of good game, but UC was the only team that finished the year ranked.
2019 Final Grade: A-
Cincinnati 2020 Season Grade: A
It took a walk-off field goal from a team with College Football Playoff talent to finally beat the Bearcats. The bowl loss to Georgia was rough, but the program won a conference title, had many arguing about a possible CFP spot, and hung punch-for-punch with one of the elites.
East Carolina 2020 Season Grade: C+
The 52-38 win over SMU showed just what the team was capable of – and what it probably could’ve been. Consistency hasn’t exactly been a thing with the Pirates over the years, but they pulled up out of a 1-6 start to close strong.
Houston 2020 Season Grade: C-
To be fair, few programs had a harder time getting things going or finding a game on a regular basis. However, considering 2019 turned into one big scrimmage to get ready for 2020, being this mediocre wasn’t okay. The first four losses were acceptable against strong teams, but getting hit by Hawaii 28-14 in the bowl was a clunker.
Memphis 2020 Season Grade: B
It was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year under a new head coach, and it wasn’t the huge season of 2019 – with an American Athletic Conference championship and New Year’s Six appearance – but there ere a few nice wins, a bowl victory, and the loss to Cincinnati was acceptable.
Navy 2020 Season Grade: C-
Navy is supposed to be better than this, and the offense is supposed to be far, far better. The 3-2 start was okay, but one of the losses was a blowout to Air Force. The team dropped the last five games, with the offense scoring a total of just 13 points in the final three games including a loss to Army.
SMU 2020 Season Grade: B
The Mustang love was a bit overblown in 2019 after a hot start, and this year’s team was really about where the program is. It was good enough to beat Memphis, and it was able to win the games it was supposed to … until getting whacked by East Carolina in the season finale.
Temple 2020 Season Grade: D-
Temple is supposed to be a whole lot better than this. It only beat a USF team – by two – that didn’t beat an FBS team, the offense struggled, and the last five losses of the six were relative blowouts.
Tulane 2020 Season Grade: B-
It was SO frustrating. It was an inconsistent season with great performances in wins over Army and Memphis, but misfires against Navy and Houston – to go along with an 11-point bowl loss to Tulane – were annoying.
Tulsa 2020 Season Grade: A
It was supposed to be another lost season for Tulsa, but instead it pushed Oklahoma State in the opening loss, went on a six-game winning streak in thrilling fashion, and lost to a fantastic Cincinnati team in the AAC Championship on a walk-off field goal. Yeah, losing to Mississippi State in the bowl game – including the ugly finish – was bad, but don’t dismiss how good it was that it was in a bowl hanging with an SEC team.
UCF 2020 Season Grade: B
To be extremely generous with the grade, the Knights were missing a slew of guys from the start and the losses were to the two teams in the AAC Championship – Tulsa and Cincinnati – by one in a firefight with Memphis, and in the bowl to a dominant BYU. It’s UCF, it should be better, but under the circumstances the season was okay.
USF 2020 Season Grade: D
It’s not like anything was expected in the first year under head coach Jeff Scott, but at least the program showed promise. The 58-46 loss to UCF was fun, two of the losses were by a total of three points, and … the only win was over The Citadel from the FCS.