2013 College Football Preview: The AAC

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Below are the projected AAC team ratings for the 2013 season. Keep in mind that projected wins and losses are made to reflect what would happen if every team played an average schedule. Most teams don’t play an average schedule, so actual wins and losses won’t look like this once the season plays out. Instead, these numbers are trying to tell us who the best teams are, regardless of the difficulty of their schedule. Therefore, instead of seeing this as a prediction that the top team in the AAC will go 7-5 this year, think of it as meaning this upcoming Cincinnati team would be projected to go 7-5 in 12 games playing an average schedule.

For projections for all FBS football teams, click here.

Overall

Ranking AAC 5 Yr. Improve Ret. Starters Proj. Off+ Proj. Def+ Proj. Total+ Proj. W% Proj. W Proj. L
1 Cincinnati 99 104 107 107 107 0.611 7.33 4.67
2 Louisville 100 112 100 110 105 0.592 7.11 4.89
3 UCF 101 82 103 98 101 0.538 6.46 5.54
4 Rutgers 99 74 85 111 98 0.499 5.99 6.01
5 Temple 102 112 100 95 97 0.494 5.93 6.07
6 Houston 100 104 100 92 96 0.472 5.67 6.33
7 SMU 105 67 93 97 95 0.464 5.56 6.44
8 Memphis 101 97 89 97 93 0.441 5.29 6.71
9 Connecticut 96 97 84 101 92 0.428 5.14 6.86
10 South Florida 93 74 82 92 87 0.362 4.34 7.66

Offense

Ranking AAC Passing Rushing Scoring Turnovers Blocking Proj. Off Proj. Off+
1 Cincinnati 109 105 111 108 114 109 107
2 UCF 109 99 109 115 101 107 103
3 Temple 102 97 100 98 99 100 100
4 Louisville 110 92 102 118 86 103 100
5 Houston 103 107 108 82 112 103 100
6 SMU 97 89 94 96 94 94 93
7 Memphis 106 84 91 85 94 92 89
8 Rutgers 96 74 80 90 106 86 85
9 Connecticut 92 94 81 85 93 87 84
10 South Florida 79 80 78 69 93 79 82

Defense

Ranking AAC Passing Rushing Scoring Turnovers Forced Pressure Proj. Def Proj. Def+
1 Rutgers 98 119 117 122 108 113 111
2 Louisville 106 113 114 111 110 111 110
3 Cincinnati 103 110 115 113 99 110 107
4 Connecticut 98 113 108 75 107 102 101
5 UCF 99 98 106 104 97 102 98
6 SMU 103 90 95 123 80 98 97
7 Memphis 94 105 96 110 108 101 97
8 Temple 91 100 93 101 98 96 95
9 South Florida 81 106 94 67 104 91 92
10 Houston 103 88 89 109 90 95 92

Confused? Check the glossary.

  1. Cincinnati– The Bearcats were a good team last season who return a slightly above average number of starters this season. New coach aside, the projections like them to be slightly better than offseason darlings Louisville this season thanks to solid offensive and defensive units.
  2. Louisville– Thanks to the beat down they put on Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season, the Cardinals have vaulted themselves into seemingly every preseason top 25 in the country. However, Teddy Bridgewater aside, the numbers simply don’t trust the offense to be more than average, breaking in 6 new starters on the offensive side of the ball. That’s not a knock on this team. They should still be an above average team, and with the schedule that they will play (easier than average), they should do better than the 7-5 projected above.
  3. UCF– Central Florida breaks in a lot of new starters this season, but, thanks to being 8% above average last season and averaging 1% of improvement per year since 2007, they are projected to be just barely above average this season. And, hey, when you play in a conference like this, that’s good enough for third place.
  4. Rutgers– In recent years, Rutgers has been all defense and no offense. Last season, they had a suffocating defensive unit, which finished 34% above average, while the offense was a terrible 21% below average. The defense only returns 4 starters from last year’s talented defense, but thanks to averaging 6% of improvement per year on defense since 2007, the projections still like them to be the best in the conference on that side of the ball. With the offense, though, it’s the exact opposite. While they aren’t quite projected to be the worst offense in the conference, thanks to their average of getting worse offensively by an average of 7% every season since 2007, they do project to come pretty close.
  5. Temple– Temple does have a positive “Improve” rating, but that’s mostly from Steve Addazio, who is now the coach at Boston College. The good news is, the Owls return an above average number of starters in 2013, so they won’t be absolutely horrible. They should give teams in the AAC a run for their money.
  6. Houston– Having coming back down from the Kevin Sumlin experience, Houston finds themselves in rebuild mode. The offense does bring back 9 starters from last season, but the defense only brings back 5. Houston’s calling card has always been offense, anyway. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t that enthused about this year’s offense, projecting them to be simply average.
  7. SMU– June Jones is still trying to bring the type of success that he found at Hawai’i to Dallas, but it hasn’t quite translated yet. The program does seem to be trending in the right direction, but with the fewest returning starters in the conference from a team that finished barely above average last season, it looks as if this year won’t be the year for Jones’ Mustangs to clear that hump.
  8. Memphis– This program has been respectable in recent years, but 2013 looks like another down year for the Tigers. With a below average number of returning starters from a team that was 13% below average last season, their should be some improvement, but not nearly enough.
  9. Connecticut– Remember when UConn was good? Well, they have been getting worse by an average of 4% per year since 2007. The offense has been the main culprit for the decline, but the defense has a slightly negative trend, too. As a result, this year’s defense looks to be right around average, while the offense seems to be blindfold worthy.
  10. South Florida– Last year wasn’t particularly great for South Florida, and with only 10 starters returning from an uninspiring 2012, this year doesn’t look all that promising, either. New coach Willie Taggart did a great job at Western Kentucky, and he can probably do a great job recruiting the state of Florida. This year is a rebuilding season, though.
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