Photo courtesy of UCF athletics
What are fans supposed to do for the next 220 days until AAC football is back?
Speculate, of course!
What better way to speculate than to go through all 11 teams’ schedules and pick each result, way too early?
What we know so far
Who each team will play in their conference games and where.
Time, date, and location for non-conference games (COVID-19 obviously pending).
There will be two teams that each team will not play in-conference.
What we don’t know yet
When teams will play their conference games.
Therefore, we don’t know when bye weeks and mid-week games will be, as well as when multiple consecutive away games will be.
UCF and Houston have an open space for a 12th game, and we don’t know who either are playing yet.
Lastly, we do not know all of the players returning for their extra potential year of eligibility.
11. South Florida (2020 Record: 0-7, 1-8; 2021 Projected: 0-8, 1-11)
Starting the season with an away game vs. NC State, home vs. Florida, and away vs. BYU is a tough schedule for any team, but especially for a team that lacked an identity last season. Having good spring practices that were lost in 2020 will be critical to help the Bulls find that identity.
|Sept. 2||at NC State||0-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 11||Florida||0-2 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 18||Florida A&M||1-2 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 24||at BYU||1-3 (0-0)||L|
|TBA||at East Carolina||1-4 (0-1)||L|
|TBA||at SMU||1-5 (0-2)||L|
|TBA||at Tulane||1-6 (0-3)||L|
|TBA||at UCF||1-7 (0-4)||L|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: None, USF should handle Florida A&M.
Game listed as loss with highest win probability: vs. Temple.
10. Temple (2020 Record: 1-6, 1-6; 2021 Projected: 1-7, 3-9)
Quarterback Anthony Russo has transferred to Michigan State, which leaves Re-al Mitchell or Trad Beatty in control on offense. This could be Coach Rod Carey’s last season if the Owls finish 3-9.
|Sept. 4||at Rutgers||0-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 11||at Akron||1-1 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||Boston College||1-2 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 25||Wagner||2-2 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||at Cincinnati||2-3 (0-1)||L|
|TBA||at East Carolina||2-4 (0-2)||L|
|TBA||at Tulsa||2-9 (0-7)||L|
|TBA||at South Florida||3-9 (1-7)||W|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: at South Florida.
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: Either at Rutgers or at East Carolina.
9. East Carolina (2020 Record: 3-5, 3-6; 2021 Projected: 2-6, 3-9)
East Carolina loses a lot of talent from last season, with Blake Proehl headlining that list. ECU always plays teams tough, though. There will be one team that is clearly better than ECU that either escapes with a win (Tulsa in 2020, Cincinnati and SMU in 2019) or loses outright (SMU in 2020).
|Sept. 2||Appalachian State||0-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 11||South Carolina||0-2 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 18||Marshall||0-3 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 25||Charleston Southern||1-3 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||South Florida||3-5 (2-2)||W|
|TBA||at Houston||3-6 (2-3)||L|
|TBA||at Memphis||3-7 (2-4)||L|
|TBA||at Navy||3-8 (2-5)||L|
|TBA||at UCF||3-9 (2-6)||L|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: vs. Temple.
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: at South Carolina, at Memphis, at Navy
8. Navy (2020 Record: 3-4, 3-7; 2021 Projected: 2-6, 3-9)
If Navy exceeds expectations, its conference schedule really bares out well for it to make a run in the AAC. The Midshipmen get Cincinnati, SMU, and UCF all at home. Navy is historically great on Senior Day under head coach Ken Niumatalolo. If it gets one of these three on Senior Day, that greatly increases Navy’s odds for that game. The Midshipmen are definitely one of the highest variance teams for 2021.
|Sept. 4||Marshall||0-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 11||Air Force||1-1 (0-0)||W|
|Nov. 6||at Notre Dame||1-2 (0-0)||L|
|Dec. 11||Army||1-3 (0-0)||L|
|TBA||at Houston||1-4 (0-1)||L|
|TBA||at Memphis||1-5 (0-2)||L|
|TBA||East Carolina||2-6 (1-3)||W|
|TBA||at Temple||3-8 (2-5)||W|
|TBA||at Tulsa||3-9 (2-6)||L|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: vs. Air Force
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: at Memphis, at Tulsa, vs. Marshall
7. Memphis (2020 Record: 5-3, 8-3; 2021 Projected: 3-5, 5-7)
Memphis loses a ton of talent from 2019 and 2020. The Tigers loses significant playing time from quarterback Brady White, kicker Riley Patterson, defensive back TJ Carter, defensive lineman O’Bryan Goodson and tackle Obinna Eze among others. We’ll know if Memphis is legitimate after its match-ups against Arkansas State, Mississippi State, and UTSA.
|Sept. 4||Nicholls||1-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 11||at Arkansas State||2-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||Mississippi State||2-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 25||UTSA||2-2 (0-0)||L|
|TBA||at Houston||2-3 (0-1)||L|
|TBA||East Carolina||3-3 (1-1)||W|
|TBA||at Temple||5-5 (3-3)||W|
|TBA||at Tulsa||5-6 (3-4)||L|
|TBA||at UCF||5-7 (3-5)||L|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: at Arkansas State
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: vs. UTSA, at Tulsa
6. Tulsa (2020 Record: 6-0, 6-3; 2021 Projected: 4-4, 6-6)
Good news for Tulsa is that five of its six projected wins are against teams that it is clearly, clearly better than. Unfortunately, the Golden Hurricane face a very difficult road schedule of Cincinnati, SMU, Tulane, Oklahoma State, and Ohio State.
|Sept. 2||UC-Davis||1-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 11||at Oklahoma State||1-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 18||at Ohio State||1-2 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 25||Arkansas State||2-2 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||at Cincinnati||2-3 (0-1)||L|
|TBA||at SMU||2-4 (0-2)||L|
|TBA||at Tulane||2-5 (0-3)||L|
|TBA||at South Florida||6-6 (4-4)||W|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: vs. Memphis
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: at SMU, at Tulane, vs. Houston
Ceiling: 8-4 with AAC Championship appearance
5. Houston (2020 Record: 3-3, 3-5; 2021 Projected: 6-2, 9-2)
Coach Dana Holgorsen must have made a deal with the devil at some point to avoid both Cincinnati and UCF in the same season. The Cougars also have a fairly easy non-conference schedule with games against Texas Tech, Grambling State, and Rice. Scheduling a team with national reputability for its 12th game will be important for Houston. This way, the Cougars can have a pelt on the wall to go with a potentially great record.
|Sept. 4||Texas Tech||1-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 11||at Rice||2-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||Grambling State||3-0 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||East Carolina||4-0 (1-0)||W|
|TBA||at Temple||7-1 (4-1)||W|
|TBA||at Tulane||7-2 (4-2)||L|
|TBA||at Tulsa||8-2 (5-2)||W|
|TBA||at South Florida||9-2 (6-2)||W|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: at Tulsa
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: vs. SMU, at Tulane
Ceiling: 10-1, plus AAC Championship win and New Year’s Six appearance
4. SMU (2020 Record: 4-3, 7-3; 2021 Projected: 6-2, 9-3)
Where SMU might experience some troubles is its road schedule — the second toughest in the AAC. The road games at Louisiana Tech, TCU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, and Navy are all challenging. Also, the Mustangs have challenging contests at home against UCF and Tulane. Throw in SMU historically having issues with Tulsa’s stack 3-3-5 defense, and SMU has the potential for a down year.
|Sept. 4||Abilene Christian||1-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 11||North Texas||2-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||at Louisiana Tech||3-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 25||at TCU||3-1 (0-0)||L|
|TBA||at Cincinnati||3-2 (0-1)||L|
|TBA||at Houston||4-2 (1-1)||W|
|TBA||at Memphis||5-2 (2-1)||W|
|TBA||at Navy||6-2 (3-1)||W|
|TBA||South Florida||9-3 (6-2)||W|
Games listed as wins with highest loss probability: vs. UCF, at Houston, vs. Tulsa
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: vs. Tulane, at TCU
Ceiling: 10-2, plus AAC Championship win
3. Tulane (2020 Record: 3-5, 6-6; 2021 Projected: 6-2, 8-4)
Unfortunately, Tulane doesn’t get to pad its win total with Temple or Navy — teams the Green Wave would likely roll in 2021. Given Oklahoma, UCF, and Cincinnati are all in a tier above, their projected record is almost their ceiling. 2021 is an opportunity for Tulane fans to get excited about a 2022 AAC title run.
|Sept. 4||Oklahoma||0-1 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 11||Morgan State||1-1 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||at Ole Miss||1-2 (0-0)||L|
|Sept. 25||UAB||2-2 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||at East Carolina||3-2 (1-0)||W|
|TBA||at Memphis||4-2 (2-0)||W|
|TBA||at SMU||5-2 (3-0)||W|
|TBA||South Florida||8-3 (6-1)||W|
|TBA||at UCF||8-4 (6-2)||L|
Games listed as wins with highest loss probability: vs. Houston, at SMU, vs. Tulsa
Game listed as loss with highest win probability: at Ole Miss
2. Cincinnati (2020 Record: 6-0, 9-1; 2021 Projected: 7-1, 10-2)
Cincinnati has tough road contests in Indiana and Notre Dame, but it gets SMU, Tulsa, and UCF all at home. Given the 2020 success, Cincinnati is the only Group of 5 team that currently controls its own destiny for the group’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.
|Sept. 4||Miami (OH)||1-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 11||Murray State||2-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||at Indiana||2-1 (0-0)||L|
|Oct. 2||at Notre Dame||3-1 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||at East Carolina||7-2 (4-1)||W|
|TBA||at Navy||8-2 (5-1)||W|
|TBA||at Tulane||9-2 (6-1)||W|
|TBA||at South Florida||10-2 (7-1)||W|
Game listed as win with highest loss probability: at Notre Dame
Games listed as losses with highest win probability: at Indiana, vs. UCF
Ceiling: 12-0 plus AAC Championship and New Year’s Six bowl win
1. UCF (2020 Record: 5-3, 6-4; 2021 Projected: 7-1, 10-1)
UCF’s current non-conference schedule is relatively easy with games against Boise State, Connecticut, and Louisville. Going undefeated is incredibly difficult, whether it be traveling to Cincinnati and SMU, or hosting a dangerous Tulane.
|Sept. 4||Boise State||1-0 (0-0)||W|
|Sept. 18||at Louisville||2-0 (0-0)||W|
|Nov. 20||Connecticut||3-0 (0-0)||W|
|TBA||at Cincinnati||4-0 (1-0)||W|
|TBA||at Navy||5-0 (2-0)||W|
|TBA||at SMU||5-1 (2-1)||L|
|TBA||at Temple||6-1 (3-1)||W|
|TBA||East Carolina||7-1 (4-1)||W|
|TBA||South Florida||10-1 (7-1)||W|
Games listed as wins with highest loss probability: at Cincinnati, vs. Tulane, vs. Boise State
Game listed as loss with highest win probability: at SMU
Ceiling: 11-0, plus AACChampionship and New Year’s Six bowl win
EDITOR’S NOTE: Josh Heupel was still head coach at UCF at the time of publication on Jan. 26. His departure was not factored into the projections.