2017 American Conference Preview

For much of last year it appeared as if the American Conference would have its 2nd straight appearance in a contract bowl. Until Houston crumpled down the stretch. The American Conference probably has the 4  best Group of 5 teams in the nation and 2 of them looked primed to be the  Group of 5 representative in the Contract bowls. As stated in the Season preview the American conference looks very strong this year and well above the rest of the Group of 5. They have quite a few games that should garner lots of NFL scouts and national attention.

 

For each Conference we will have the Simplified Football predictions (record) with the Projected Win-Shares and rating of each team next to it. We will also have Bowl Projections for each conference.

 

American Predictions:

East

Team – Record (Conf)  /  Win-Shares (Conf)  /  Rating

  1. South Florida – 10-2 (6-2)  /  8.74 (5.42)  /  4.09
  2. Central Florida – 8-4 (6-2)  /  7.91 (5.01)  /  3.89
  3. ECU – 6-6 (4-4)  /  6.26 (2.82)  /  3.77
  4. Cincinnati – 5-7 (3-5)  /  5.32 (3.48)  /  3.31
  5. UCONN – 4-8 (3-5)  /  5.32 (3.48)  /  3.43
  6. Temple – 5-7 (2-6)  /  4.77 (2.82)  /  3.25

West

Team – Record (Conf)  /  Win-Shares (Conf)  /  Rating

  1. Houston – 10-2 (6-2)  /  8.79 (5.76)  /  4.29
  2. Tulsa – 7-5 (5-3)  /  5.95 (3.8)  /  3.67
  3. Memphis – 7-5 (4-4)  /  7-37 (4.57)  /  4.03
  4. Navy – 7-5 (4-4)  /  4.73 (3.06)  /  3.27
  5. SMU – 6-6 (3-5)  /  6.29 (3.71)  /  3.44
  6. Tulane – 4-8 (2-6)  /  4.53 (2.68)  /  3.09

 

Houston wins the West out-right and USF wins the East on a tie-break (beating UCF head to head).

 

Championship game – USF beats Houston in the Championship game and is the highest ranked Group of 5 team.

 

 

That makes 8 bowl teams for the AAC

 

Peach Bowl – USF

Cure Bowl – Memphis

Boca Raton Bowl – UCF

Birmingham Bowl – Houston

Hawaii Bowl – Tulsa

Frisco Bowl – SMU

Military Bowl – Navy

St Petersburg Bowl – ECU

AAC Preview and Predictions

For each of the conference Predictions I will put in both the Predicted Finish according to Win-Shares, as well as my own personal predictions (which are largely very similar).

 

AAC Win-Shares

West

 

Houston – 7.97 (5.27)

Tulsa – 5.81 (3.62)

Navy – 5.57 (3.6)

Memphis – 5.43 (3.41)

Tulane – 5.42 (3.22)

Southern Methodist – 4.77 (3.1)

 

East

 

South Florida – 7.66 (5.13)

Cincinnati – 7.67 (4.82)

Central Florida – 6.84 (4.48)

Temple – 6.5 (3.84)

East Carolina – 5.47 (3.78)

Connecticut – 5.92 (3.73)

 

USF over Houston in the AAC championship.

 

 

Simplified Football Predictions

West

 

Houston = 10-2 (7-1)

Navy = 7-5 (4-4)

Memphis = 6-6 (4-4)

Tulsa = 6-6 (3-5)

SMU = 4-8 (2-6)

Tulane = 3-9 (1-7)

 

East

 

Cincinnati = 8-4 (6-2)

USF = 8-4 (6-2)

UCF = 7-5 (4-4)

UCONN = 6-6 (4-4)

ECU = 5-7 (4-4)

Temple = 6-6 (3-5)

 

Houston over Cincinnati in AAC Championship game.

 

 

That is 9 bowl teams for the AAC

Cotton Bowl – Houston

Armed Forces Bowl – Navy

Birmingham Bowl – USF

Military Bowl – Cincinnati

St Petersburg Bowl – UCF

Cure Bowl – UCONN

Boca Raton Bowl – Memphis

Miami Beach Bowl – Tulsa

Bahamas Bowl – Temple

 

Group of 5 Notable Win Shares

Here are the teams of note from the Group of 5 and their Win Shares:

American:

Champion: Cincinnati 7.39 (4.89)

Mountain West:

West Champion: San Deigo St 6.97 (4.97)

Mountain Champion: Boise St 9.22 (6.71)

Boise St in Championship over San Deigo St with .67 Win Share.

NOTE: With their strongest team in the last few years and 2 Power 5 opponents on their schedule (both winnable) We could see Boise St crash the Playoff Party if they run the table. Long-Shot but better chance than anyone last year.

Conference USA:

East Champion: Marshall 8.83 (5.95)

West Champion: Louisiana Tech 8.34 (5.85)

Marshall in Championship over La Tech with .55 Win Share

Mid-American:

East Champion: Akron 6.47 (4.7)

West Champion: Western Michigan 6.56 (4.93)

Western Michigan over Akron in Championship with .55 Win Share

Sun Belt:

Champion: Arkansas St 7.04 (5.26)

Independents:

Notre Dame 8.8

BYU 7.29

2014 Group of 5 and Independent Preview

Last year Fresno State came very close to getting into the BCS.  This year everything changes for the Group of 5.  The American Conference goes from being an automatic qualifier (IE being recognized with the top conferences) to being recognized with the Group of 5 conferences.  The highest ranked team from here on out gets to one of the big bowls and a nice pay-day. Of course it is possible that an undefeated group of 5 team can make it to the playoffs, but they will have to win convincingly and/or beat a Power 5 school.

This year the top contenders for a playoff spot are Marshall, Boise St, UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati. Marshall has the easiest schedule, but no marquee matchups, so they have the best chance of being undefeated, but they will need to win big in almost every game.  Boise State has a game against Ole Miss to start the season, if they can win that game (provided Ole Miss does well in the SEC) and win convincingly against the rest of their schedule, they will have a good argument.  UCF has Penn State, Missouri and BYU, if they can somehow win 2 of 3 against that and win the rest, they are one team that has any kind of argument with 1 loss (still not a great one). Houston has BYU, so they will need to win convincingly against every opponent and win that game. Cincinnati has Ohio St and Miami (Fl), they like UCF could also have a weak argument for getting in with 1 loss if they win the rest big.  Of course a loss to any other team than one that finishes in the top 5, knocks them out.  With that said I think the best chance lies with Marshall going undefeated.

 

Here is a look at the top teams from each conference that should compete for the conference Title, as well as our picks to win each conference.

 

American Conference

HOUSTON:

Overall Rating: 3.91

AAC Win Share: 5.92 (overall 9.01)

CINCINNATI:

Overall Rating: 3.88

AAC Win Share: 5.86 (overall 8.11)

UCF:

Overall Rating: 3.61

AAC Win Share: 5.29 (overall 7.31)

 

Our Pick for Conference Champion is Houston, winning the tie-breaker over UCF and Cincinnati, All 3 teams get left out of Contract Bowls and Playoff.

 

Mountain West Conference

BOISE STATE:

Overall Rating: 4.05

MWC Win Share: 6.45 (overall 8.98)

UTAH STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.44

MWC Win Share: 5.09 (overall 7.61)

FRESNO STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.39

MWC Win Share: 4.90 (overall 6.39)

SAN DIEGO STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.26

MWC Win Share: 4.51 (overall 6.53)

 

We have Boise State facing off against Fresno State in the MWC championship game, with Boise winning.  Boise will contend with Marshall for the Contract bowl automatic spot, but fall short of the Playoffs.

 

 

Conference USA

MARSHALL:

Overall Rating: 3.63

CUSA Win Share: 5.85 (overall 9.42)

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.32

CUSA Win Share: 5.26 (overall 7.40)

RICE:

Overall Rating: 3.43

CUSA Win Share: 5.36 (overall 6.97)

UTSA:

Overall Rating: 3.37

CUSA Win Share: 5.23 (overall 6.71)

NORTH TEXAS:

Overall Rating: 3.34

CUSA Win Share: 4.87 (overall 6.66)

 

We have Marshall beating Rice in the CUSA Championship game, with Marshall winning and contending with Boise St for the Contract Bowl automatic spot, but missing the playoffs as they will not go undefeated.

 

 

Mid-American Conference

BOWLING GREEN:

Overall Rating: 3.44

MAC Win Share: 6.02 (overall 8.37)

BUFFALO:

Overall Rating: 3.30

MAC Win Share: 5.10 (overall 7.55)

NORTHERN ILLINOIS:

Overall Rating: 3.54

MAC Win Share: 6.30 (overall 8.40)

TOLEDO:

Overall Rating: 3.34

MAC Win Share: 5.09 (overall 6.82)

 

We have Northern Illinois facing off against Bowling Green for the MAC Championship, with NIU winning. However they will not make a run at a big bowl or the playoffs.

 

 

Sun Belt

USA:

Overall Rating: 3.26

Sun Belt Win Share: 5.21 (overall 6.31)

LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE:

Overall Rating: 3.22

Sun Belt Win Share: 5.55 (overall 7.28)

 

We have Louisiana winning the Sun Belt Championship, but falling short of the big bowls and playoffs.

 

 

Independents

NOTRE DAME:

Overall Rating: 4.35

Win Share: 7.21

BRIGHAM YOUNG:

Overall Rating: 4.05

Win Share: 8.48

NAVY:

Overall Rating: 3.48

Win Share: 7.76

 

Despite all of these teams (and potentially Army too) making a bowl game, none of them will come close to competing for a playoff spot.

 

Top 10 offenses:

BYU

Navy

Cincinnati

Notre Dame

Marshall

Toledo

UCF
Louisiana

Houston

Air Force

 

 

Top 10 Defenses:

Boise State

Notre Dame

BYU

Utah State

Colorado State

UCF
Houston

Cincinnati

Middle Tenn St

Rice