2016 AAC Football Predictions

AAC 2016 Predictions

The American Athletic Conference compiled a pretty impressive showing in the 2015 College Football season. The conference boasted 8 teams that would go on to play in bowl games. These accolades kept the conference on the map in the eyes of perspective opponents in 2015 and will feature similar respect in 2016. The top contenders have lost some of their key playmakers to the NFL draft, but, in most cases, their odds of success aren’t decreasing. Let’s take a deeper look into some of the headlines and teams to watch out for in the 2016 season.

Will Anyone Stop Houston?

Houston is coming off one of their most memorable seasons in the history of the program. The Cougars compiled a record of 13-1 last season and a victory over Florida State in the Peach Bowl to cap their remarkable efforts. This season they feature a rather tough schedule, but will be a bear to tackle come conference game time. They begin their season taking a short trip over to NRG Stadium to take on the always dangerous Oklahoma Sooners. This game will test the team early and will mark what we can expect from this team throughout the 2016 season. Winning this game will confirm their strength and losing it will put a chip on their shoulders that will be hard to break down. Their conference schedule remains rather difficult as Houston will travel to play at Navy, Cincinnati and Memphis, with each team posing a potential threat to another near-perfect season. Greg Ward Jr. returns at quarterback and will look to be in top form barring any injuries. Will their leader rearing to go and a tough schedule on the forefront, Houston will have to be mistake free in order to repeat a performance like that of 2015’s campaign.  SBNation’s Bill Connelly called them lucky last year, and doesn’t think they are a clear cut favorite.

USF and Temple: Battling for the East?

The Eastern portion of the AAC conference looks to remain solidified as far as the two top contenders are concerned. Temple finished last season 7-1 in conference play while USF finished 6-2 in conference play. Temple loses out on some key players on both sides of the ball to the draft. USF loses some key lineman and offensive protection for quarterback Quinton Flowers. They do get to finish the season against UCF and should be favored heavily.  Temple retains some of its offensive threats in quarterback P.J. Walker and running back Jahad Thomas. The Bulls schedule will provide to be a bit more difficult then the Owls as their key road games are against the top talents in the AAC conference. Cincinnati is coming off a rather lackluster season, but are poised for a comeback in 2016. Quarterback Gunner Kiel can be a nightmare if he gets his act together, which could be a scary concept for any team taking on the Bearcats this season. The East remains in the balance as these three teams will provide to be headaches and will provide some exciting matchups during this season.

What about Navy? Memphis? Tulsa? UConn?

As far as the top contenders are concerned, the rest of the division opponents each are put in rather interesting situations. Most of these lower-tier teams are avoiding the conversation due to key loses or from having no significant gains. Much of the same leaves these teams with a question mark following their name. Can Navy bounce back after the loss of field general Keenan Reynolds? Does Tulsa’s rather manageable schedule provide them with the tools they need to reach success in 2016?  They are one of Central Florida’s top rivals so I hope not! Does UConn’s defense retain the title of the top in the conference? Will Memphis break out of their divisional slump? All of these questions beg for answers and it will be interesting to see just how these teams respond to their critics. Two of the potential standouts from the teams mentioned here are UConn and Tulsa. Both teams retained much of their core of players on both sides of the ball and if they can improve upon their mishaps, they could be contenders for the title this year.

Final Remarks

When all is said and done we know UCF won’t contend unless one of their best players comes back and suits up. I expect Houston to take the Western portion of the conference with Memphis, Tulsa and Navy following in that order respectively. In the East I think we see a surprise from Cincinnati as they top the East followed by USF, UConn and Temple in that order. It will be interesting to see how the conference plays out and I think we’ll notice this positioning rather early in the season.

UCF Game By Game Predictions for 2016

UCF Football

The University of Central Florida (UCF) had a rather forgettable 2015 College Football season. The Knights finished with a rather dismissible season finishing winless. It was only the third time in the program’s history that the team finished without a win.  You won’t see any of those players on our list of all-time greats.

Any type of improvement will do as just one win will surpass last year’s total of zero. But, the experts at BoydsBets don’t think it’s going to get a whole lot better this year.  Below we’ll take a look at each game on the 2016 schedule and find out which games represent the best chances for UCF to come out victorious.

Sept. 3 vs. South Carolina State

The first game of the year takes place at home in Florida. South Carolina State is no North Carolina State, which represents good news for the Knights. The Knights have the weapons on offense and defense to defeat the Bulldogs and it should show in week one. Knights 35 Bulldogs 21. Starting the season off with a win is critical to the 2016 season-long campaign.

Sept. 10 at Michigan

Win #1 of the 2016 season will be greeted with an embarrassing loss to Michigan. Michigan has a program that is too balanced and impossible to penetrate on the ground or through the air. Look for UCF to drop this game. Michigan 42 UCF 17.

Sept. 17 vs Maryland

In the third week of the season the Knights welcome a strong Maryland team. The level that Maryland plays at and the level the Knights are at does not favor the home team in this match-up. Maryland 33 UCF 14.

Sept. 24 at FIU

Week 4 finally provides an intriguing matchup for the Knights. FIU handed the Knights their first conference loss this year, which should provide good motivation for a comeback. The Knights have playmakers on both sides of the ball that will cause some panic for a mediocre FIU team. Look for the Knights to win their second game of the season in a close fashion, 24-21.

Oct. 1 at East Carolina

The Pirates are coming off a rather lack luster season. Their 2015 season campaign left them with a record of 5-7 and a team that returned most of their offensive and defensive starters. This experience will show over the Knight’s lack of veteran leadership as the Pirates defeat the Knights 42-28.

Oct. 7 vs. Tulane

The Knights welcome another strong competitor in Tulane on the 7th of October. Tulane is poised for a breakout season as they are one of the strongest competitors in the AAC conference. The Knights fail to get it done in this matchup as well. Tulane 35 Knights 14.

Oct. 15 vs. Temple, Oct. 22 at UConn and Oct. 29 at Houston

These three matchups provide bad news for the Knights since two of them are projected to contend for the AAC title. Temple finished with one of the best records in the AAC conference last year and they are in for a solid season this year. The Knights don’t have the stamina to outlast the Temple offense and they fall 42-17. UConn is looking for big things out of their team this season and had a rather forgettable 2015 season. Traveling to UConn to take on a team with a chip on their shoulder is never good. UConn 28 UCF 10. Traveling to Houston is going to be an embarrassing proposition. Houston was out for blood last year and this year will be no different. Houston 56 UCF 14.

Nov. 12 vs. Cincinnati and Nov. 19 vs. Tulsa

Cincinnati finally has a handle on their quarterback situation and have returned most of last year’s starters. This is not only bad news for the entire AAC conference, but ultimately bad news for the Knights. Cincinnati 42 UCF 21. Welcoming Tulsa is another task the Knights just aren’t up for this year. This year they fall to Tulsa 38-21.

Nov. 26 at USF

The battle for Florida may provide for an intriguing matchup in the last game of the season for the Knights. The Bulls are projected to be out of playoff competition at this point and the Knights should be able to catch them off-guard and steal a victory at a rather difficult place to win.   This is one of UCF’s top rivals so you know they’ll be ready to play.  Knights 24 Bulls 21.

Top 3 Players in UCF History

Brandon Marshall - UCF Star

While lacking the luster and name of in-state rivals Florida, and Florida, the University of Central Florida is a solid program its own right that is quickly building a legacy and outstanding football tradition. While there have been numerous outstanding players in the history of Central Florida Football, the following three players, shine above the rest and will forever be, Golden Knights.

1.) Brandon Marshall-WR- While he split time between Wide Receiver and Safety during his college years, a list of the top football players in UCF history begins with Brandon Marshall. While is college production does not match that of some of the notable quarterbacks that will be found lower down on this list, his pro production is unmatched and he is ARGUABLY the greatest professional football player produced by UCF. Drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 4th Round of the 2006 NFL draft, Brandon Marshall or B. Marsh for short has had 1000 yard receiving seasons for count ’em, four teams!!! For his career Marshall has 882 receptions for over 11,000 yards and 79 touchdown catches. Gaudy numbers for sure.

2.) Blake Bortles-QB- While it remains to be seen whether or not Bortles can be a viable starting quarterback for multiple years at the NFL level, Bortles earns his place on this list based on potential and what he did during his time at UCF. While at UCF Bortles threw for over 7,500 yards and managed 56 Touchdown passes to only 19 interceptions. Additionally, Bortles quarterbacked the Golden Knights to a 22-5 record during his time at quarterback. Most importantly, Bortles lead the Golden Knights to inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship and a spot in the Tositos Fiesta Bowl, where they defeated Baylor. More telling than any other statistic related to Bortles, has been the Golden Knights less than stellar record (hello, oh for 2015) since he departed Orlando.

3.) Daunte Culpepper- QB- Coming out of Vanguard High School in nearby Ocala in 1996, nobody at UCF was quite sure what to expect out of quarterback Daunte Culpepper despite the fact he had recently been named Mr. Football in the state of Florida. Fast forward four years and Culpepper owns (and still does) every major record at the University of Central Florida. Having passed for over 11,000 yards to go along with 84 touchdowns and only 42 interceptions in his UCF career, Culpepper was a first round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1999. While his pro career fizzled out in his later years, Culpepper teamed with Randy Moss and Cris Carter for several years in Minnesota to form the most potent passing attack in the entire NFL.

None of these players are suiting up this year, that’s why we don’t expect many wins in 2016 and we certainly won’t contend for the AAC title.

Top Rivals to UCF Football

Top UCF Rivals

The UCF Knights is a football team that has had a storied past and still is relativity a new team that is still trying to get their feet underneath them. They have switched conferences a number of times but one thing remains the same, they have had their share of rivalries over the last several years. East Carolina, South Florida, Marshall, and Tulsa are the teams that have given the Knights plenty of rivalry moments. Let’s take a look at these rivalries and see what makes them such a compelling match up.

East Carolina

The Pirates of East Carolina are one of the more bothersome teams that the Knights have had to face over the years. This is been a back and fourth rivalry since 1991 and both teams boast of having an impressive record over one another. The current record is 9-4 in favor of the Pirates. There was some concern that the two teams would cease meeting when UCF joined the American Athletic conference, but alas, the Pirates came along as well and the heated match-up was able to resume on an annual basis.

South Florida

The war on I-4 as it has been deemed is one of the more intense rivalries that the state of Florida has seen. This is all because of the fact that both teams want to have bragging rights along with the other two well-known teams of Florida, the University of Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. Of the seven games that these two have played, the Knights have walked away with 2 of the wins. Including their most recent one where the Bulls of South Florida defeated UCF to finish off their win-less season. 2016 looks to be a better year for this rivalry.

USF is expected to contender for the AAC title in 2016.  That doesn’t bode well for us as we get them in our last game of the year, when they should be fighting for a conference title.


This has been by far the most successful rivalry that the UCF Knights have had in all their years as a team. With 11 games played and only three losses to Marshall, UCF has been able to sit back and say that they were the dominant team. No other team in their rivalry history have they has as much success as they did over the Marshall team. While the series is no longer active, the stories from the rivalry still linger today.


Tulsa has remained all these years as a tough puzzle to conquer. The Golden Hurricanes hold a three-game advantage in their rivalry. This started back in 2005 and since there have been nine meetings with UCF taking three of those games. 2016 looks to be a good year for this rivalry as UCF has some power that they have brought in and are looking to overt take the division with an impressive performance this year.

As you are able to see, there a have been a number of teams that they have battled over the course of the last couple of decades. These games have allowed for a number of stories to emerge.