1. THE TIME TO WIN IS NOW
Commissioner Mike Aresco continued to pound the drums Tuesday, insisting the AAC could be considered a “power-six” conference in the near future. It has been his mantra from Day 1, but the league has not backed up his bold statements on the field. Unless Cincinnati beats Miami and Memphis beats Ole Miss and Temple beats Penn State (all home games for the AAC), it will be nothing more than a pipe dream.
2. ANCHORS AWAY
Navy joining the AAC after spending 134 years as an independent is a big deal because the Midshipmen can compete at the top of the league. Navy got seven first-place votes in the West division in the media poll, was one point behind Houston for second place and five points behind Memphis for first. Senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds is on pace to shatter the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns held by Montee Ball.
3. FEW STARS, MANY RETURNING QBs
Aside from Reynolds and Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel, almost no returning player in the league has cracked the national consciousness. That’s a major reason why no AAC team received more than one vote in the coaches’ top 25 poll (even with six AAC coaches voting). Still, nine starting quarterbacks return, including all six in the West Division, leading to hopes for a better year overall.
4. CINCINNATI RISING
The Bearcats have a proven coach in Tommy Tuberville. They have five 10-win seasons from 2007-12. They return their star quarterback (Kiel), their top rusher and their top six receivers. No wonder they received 22 of 30 first-place votes for overall AAC champion, but they barely registered in the national coaches’ poll. They should be a contender for the access bid to a major bowl that goes to the highest-rated champion from a league outside the Power Five.