The College Football News 2021 American Athletic Conference preseason rankings along with a quick take on every team.
This is NOT a ranking of where the teams are going to finish. This is based on how good we think the American Athletic teams are going into the 2021 season.
2021 CFN American Athletic Preseason Rankings
1. Cincinnati Bearcats
Quick Take: There’s a whole lot to love on a loaded team with an NFL QB in Desmond Ridder and a fantastic defense led by a few special corners. Win on the road at Indiana and Notre Dame – hardly a given, though – and the CFP talk will kick in.
Cincinnati Preview | Schedule
2. UCF Knights
Quick Take: Trust in Gus. The hiring of Gus Malzahn was inspired, and he’s got the parts in place to win big right away. Everyone might be talking about Cincinnati, but don’t be shocked if this grows into the star of the AAC.
UCF Preview | Schedule
3. Houston Cougars
Quick Take: This could be one of the high-risers in the AAC. The program hasn’t had a lick of luck since Dana Holgorsen took over, but Houston could be a factor if the defense can be a whole lot better.
Houston Preview | Schedule
4. Memphis Tigers
Quick Take: It hasn’t been a problem for years, but … can the offensive backfield be good enough? The numbers and production will be there, but this isn’t going to be an easy run.
Memphis Preview | Schedule
5. SMU Mustangs
Quick Take: If nothing else, the Mustangs are going to be fun. The lines might not be good enough to get by the better teams, but O will be strong enough to pull off an upset or three.
SMU Preview | Schedule
6. Tulane Green Wave
Quick Take: It’s going to be a good team with a rough record. The experience is there, the coaching is great, and there’s a whole lot to like … except for the schedule. It’s going to be a fight just to go bowling.
Tulane Preview | Schedule
7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Quick Take: One of the biggest shockers of 2020 will still be good, but it’ll be a rough start with a tough slate. Expect solid more than sensational, and that might be just enough to pull off a few stunners.
Tulsa Preview | Schedule
8. Temple Owls
9. Navy Midshipmen
Quick Take: The offensive line has to step it up in a hurry. The team wasn’t nearly strong enough on either side of the ball last year, and it’s still going to be a battle to get back to the 2019 form.
Navy Preview | Schedule
10. East Carolina Pirates
11. USF Bulls
Quick Take: The offense had enough moments in Jeff Scott’s first year to be excited – the 1-8 record aside – and the linebacking corps should be a plus. Good luck, though, finding more than a few wins on the harsh slate.
USF Preview | Schedule