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2013 College Football Preview: American Athletic
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 7/16/2013  at  2:27:00 AM
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To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2013 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Next up is the American Athletic Conference, formerly known as the Big East. Although both Pittsburgh and Syracuse are now in the ACC, this conference expanded from eight to 10 teams this season with the addition of four Conference USA schools -- Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF.

Odds to Win American Athletic Conference

5-to-7: Louisville
49-to-10: Cincinnati
49-to-10: Rutgers
10-to-1: Central Florida
20-to-1: Connecticut
23-to-1: South Florida
25-to-1: SMU
25-to-1: Houston
55-to-1: Memphis
55-to-1: Temple

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 6-6-1 (50%)
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 31.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 20/1

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 10
The Cardinals should go 12-0 with a cake schedule and both QB Teddy Bridgewater (3,718 yds, 27 TD, 8 INT) and WR DeVante Parker (744 rec. yds, 18.6 YPC, 10 TD) back. RBs Senorise Perry (705 rush yds, 11 TD) and Dominique Brown (592 rush yds career) are both legit. A good defense (340 YPG, 23rd in FBS) should be even better, especially the front seven led by DE Deiontrez Mount and MLB Preston Brown (109 tackles). FS Hakeem Smith (73 tackles) and SS Calvin Pryor (100 tackles) pace a top-notch secondary.

CINCINNATI BEARCATS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 8-4-1 (67%)
Over/Under: 6-5
Points Scored: 32.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 250/1

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
New Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville
The new coach prefers QB Brendon Kay (9.4 YPA, 10 TD, 2 INT) over QB Munchie Legaux (7.5 YPA, 13 TD, 9 INT) to run the offense. TE Travis Kelce (722 rec. yds, 8 TD) and WR Anthony McClung (539 rec. yds) are both solid. All five O-Line starters return for this quality ground attack (201 YPG, 30th in FBS). The nation’s 14th-best scoring defense (18.5 PPG) is fast and athletic, led by LB Greg Blair (138 tackles), but the weak D-Line is concerning.

RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 7-6 (54%)
Over/Under: 3-9
Points Scored: 21.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 14.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
QB Gary Nova (2,695 pass yds, 22 TD, 16 INT) had an up-and-down 2012, but is thriving under new OC Ron Prince. Nova still has 6-foot-6 WR Brandon Coleman (718 rec. yds, 10 TD) to rely on and RB Savon Huggins (410 rush yds) is very capable. New DC Dave Cohen takes over a depleted defense that gave up 14.2 PPG (4th in FBS). Twin brothers DE Jamil Merrell (5.5 sacks) and LB Jamal Merrell (83 tackles) will shine, but the green DBs may struggle.

CENTRAL FLORIDA GOLDEN KNIGHTS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-4 (7-2 in C-USA)
ATS Record: 7-7 (50%)
Over/Under: 10-4
Points Scored: 35.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
Stud QB Blake Bortles (3,059 pass yds, 25 TD, 7 INT) gives the Knights a chance to compete in their new conference. He’ll look mostly to WRs J.J. Worton (594 rec. yds), Jeff Godfrey (429 rec. yds) and Breshad Perriman (388 rec. yds). RB Storm Johnson (507 rush yds, 4 TD) will be the bell-cow. C-USA’s top defense (22.1 PPG) will hope LB Terrance Plummer (108 tackles) and S Clayton Geathers (117 tackles) can carry a young defensive corps in 2013.

CONNECTICUT HUSKIES


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (2-5 in Big East)
ATS Record: 3-6-3 (33%)
Over/Under: 4-8
Points Scored: 17.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The Huskies offense was awful (17.8 PPG, 4th-fewest in FBS) and really needs subpar QB Chandler Whitmer (9 TD, 16 INT) to improve in new OC T.J. Weist’s hurry-up offense. Junior RB Lyle McCombs (860 rush yds, 3.5 YPC) had a down year due mostly to poor O-Line play. The staunch defense (310 YPG, 9th in FBS) lost a lot, but star MLB Yawin Smallwood (120 tackles, 15 TFL) returns, and DB Byron Jones (87 tackles) leads a strong secondary.

SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 3-9 (1-6 in Big East)
ATS Record: 3-8-1 (27%)
Over/Under: 4-7
Points Scored: 20.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 27.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 4
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
New Head Coach: Willie Taggart
USF closed with a 1-9 mark, scoring 8.8 PPG in the final four games. QBs Matt Floyd (0 TD, 5 INT) and Bobby Eveld (3 TD, 7 INT career) are huge drop-offs from B.J. Daniels. WR Andre Davis (534 rec. yds, 6 TD) is impressive, but top RB Marcus Shaw (4.9 YPC, 0 TD) doesn’t exude greatness. New DC Chuck Bresnahan doesn’t have a lot to work with, but former Notre Dame DE Aaron Lynch is beastly, and LB DeDe Lattimore (76 tackles) can also play.

SOUTHERN METHODIST MUSTANGS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (6-3 in C-USA)
ATS Record: 8-5 (62%)
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 30.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 25.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 3
QB Garrett Gilbert (15 TD, 15 INT) became more comfortable with the run-and-shoot last year, and has talented WRs in Jeremy Johnson (679 rec. yds) and Der’Rikk Thompson (535 rec. yds). Top RB Zach Line is gone, but Texas transfer RB Traylon Shead had a huge spring. SMU needs its pass defense (278 YPG, 113th in FBS) to improve greatly, as most of the front seven is gone. LBs Randall Joyner (93 tackles) and Stephon Sanders (5 PD) remain.

HOUSTON COUGARS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (4-4 in C-USA)
ATS Record: 5-7 (42%)
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 32.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 36.0 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
Junior QB David Piland (16 TD, 12 INT) returns to operate the nation’s 15th-best offense (480 YPG) with all of his top targets plus JUCO star WR Markeith Ambles. Top RB Charles Sims transferred in May, leaving RB Kenneth Farrow (466 rush yds) as the top back. The nation’s 7th-worst defense (483 YPG) will still be lousy, but LB Derrick Mathews (126 tackles, 17 TFL) is a beast and the secondary is strong with S Trevon Stewart (126 tackles, 7 PD) in charge.

MEMPHIS TIGERS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (4-4 in C-USA)
ATS Record: 7-5 (58%)
Over/Under: 7-4
Points Scored: 24.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 30.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
QB Jacob Karam (14 TD, 3 INT) will likely keep his job, and has decent skill players in WR Keiwone Malone (476 rec. yds) and RB Brandon Hayes (576 rush yds, 6 TD) to help improve a weak offense (318 YPG, 113th in FBS). The defense made great strides under DC Barry Odom in 2012 (384 YPG, 3rd in C-USA) and remains mostly intact, starring DE Martin Ifedi (7.5 sacks, 46 tackles), LB Charles Harris (79 tackles) and S Lonnie Ballentine (3 INT).

TEMPLE OWLS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-7 (2-5 in Big East)
ATS Record: 4-7 (36%)
Over/Under: 6-3-1
Points Scored: 24.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 31.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
New Head Coach: Matt Rhule
Temple lost its final five Big East games by a 199-74 margin. With star RB Montel Harris gone, the team will throw more with junior QB Connor Reilly operating Matt Rhule’s new spread attack. Other than WR Jalen Fitzpatrick (363 rec. yds), skill positions are weak. The porous defense (437 YPG, 92nd in FBS) doesn’t have much after LB Tyler Matakevich (101 tackles). DE Sean Daniels (3 sacks) and CB Anthony Robey (6 PD) are adequate at best.

All 2013 College Football Previews:

MAC
Conference USA
Mountain West
Sun Belt
American Athletic
Independents - July 18
ACC - July 22
Big 12 - July 29
Big Ten - August 5
Pac-12 - August 12
SEC - August 19
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