Roundtable: AAC Championship Game predictions
The college football season has finally kicked off, and every team is vying for a spot in a championship game. The American Athletic Conference is no different, and head coach Major Applewhite has said it is one of the most competitive conferences in the nation.
Three of The Cougar’s writers have given their thoughts on which teams will face off in the AAC Championship Game come Dec. 1.
Staff Writer Taylor Hawthorne
UCF was a strong force in the AAC West last year as it went 13-0. Despite losing head coach Scott Frost, the Knights still possess many key offensive players and a solid defense from last year, which will keep it at No. 1 in the West.
But USF could pose a threat to UCF. Coach Charlie Strong has another year with the Bulls under his belt. However, with the loss of many key players like quarterback Quinton Flowers, the team will likely remain behind the Knights.
Although Memphis lost starting quarterback Riley Ferguson, the team has seven offensive starters and eight defensive starters returning to carry on the chemistry of last season, which makes it the team to beat in the East.
Houston could challenge Memphis with returning AAC Defensive Player of the Year Ed Oliver and the addition of new offensive coordinator, Kendal Briles.
However, the Cougars need to prove that the offense does not have to light up the scoreboard to win every game.
Prediction: Memphis versus UCF
Senior Staff Writer Jackson Gatlin
While it may be a bit of a biased pick, the Cougars should take the AAC West this year.
Houston went 3-1 in its final four regular season games last year after it handed the reins over to junior quarterback D’Eriq King.
The offense, now firmly under King’s control, along with junior defensive tackle and watch list extraordinaire Ed Oliver anchoring Houston’s defense, it’s hard to not imagine the Cougars coming out on top this season.
Much like Houston, Temple University had a small burst of success at the tail-end of its season, finishing 3-1 over its last four games.
Temple was only a couple successful touchdowns away from finishing 10-3 as opposed to its actual record of 7-6. With an extra season of experience for its players, Temple might not drop those close games and could definitely win the AAC East.
Prediction: Houston versus Temple
Sports Editor Andres Chio
In the short history of the AAC, great offenses have dominated the division. This season, the two best offenses will be UCF and Houston.
Star quarterback McKenzie Milton and most of the offense has returned to UCF, and its new coach Josh Heupel made Missouri into the No. 11 offense in the nation last season.
UCF won’t go undefeated, but should still be good enough to get to the title match.
Houston hired Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator, and his offensive system has worked everywhere he has gone.
With stability at quarterback with D’Eriq King, the Cougars should run over the rest of the West and its relativity weak and mid-tier defenses.
Prediction: Houston versus UCF