The American Athletic Conference released the 2021 preseason media poll on Wednesday, and the South Florida Bulls were picked to finish last for the second year in a row. The Cincinnati Bearcats were picked to repeat as AAC champions.
The Bulls were picked to finish last in the COVID-wrecked 2020 season, and obliged in turn by losing every conference game as they limped their way through the year to a 1-8 finish. USF did give Central Florida a jolt in the season finale in Tampa to help breed some sort of optimism heading into the second year for head coach Jeff Scott.
The conference made the mistake again to give me a preseason vote, and I picked USF to finish 8th this year ahead of Navy, ECU, and Temple.
There’s three tiers in the conference right now:
- C. Florida (barely hanging on right now)
Tulsa lost too much at vital positions, namely QB, RB, LB repeat as AAC runner-up.
You can talk me into any of these four team making the leap into a top three position, or completely falling on their face. I love Tulane QB Michael Pratt, and think he’s going to be a star. But all of these teams have enough question marks that could them back.
Navy could be higher if I knew for certain they had their quarterback in place. The triple is great when you have a QB who can run it effectively. When they don’t...well, we saw those results.
Holten Ahlers is a trash can. Uncle Rico has a tighter spiral.
Temple has a lemon as head coach in Rod Carey, and they are free-falling from where Matt Rhule had them less than five years ago.
Now to USF.
I’m probably putting too much stock into that season finale vs C. Florida. But, we preach proof of concept, and putting up 46 points in a game where you literally have nothing to play for in a horrible year lends itself to that. Obviously, there will be a new quarterback, but it’s a good starting point for Scott and company going into their first “real” year at USF.
I’m not expecting a bowl game, but get better by the end of the season, win 4-5 games and keep the ball moving in the right direction.