The media have spoken, and Rutgers was picked to finish third in its only year as a member of the American Athletic Conference. Louisville was picked first, surprising no one, with Cincinnati picked as runner-up. Here is the full poll:
|Rank||Team (1st place votes)||Points|
With all of the buzz and hype Teddy Bridgewater is getting, Louisville is an easy pick for the best team. Not only does Charlie Strong return the best QB in the AAC, but his defense should be much improved from a year ago, especially the secondary. With an improved and veteran signal-caller and a more experienced defense, Louisville should have no problem matching their win total from a year ago.
Past Louisville, things get really murky. UCF, Cincinnati, and Rutgers all have been pegged as the runner-up to Louisville in various polls. UCF has a 3,000 yard passer in Blake Bortles, who many see as the second best QB in the AAC this season. Out of all the new teams in the conference, UCF appears to be the best prepared to compete for a conference title right away. Cincinnati is the other popular pick for the number two spot, but in my opinion, that sentiment is completely based on historical success. Tommy Tuberville is a new coach coming from a mediocre stint at Texas Tech. Brendan Kay is decent as a QB, but he isn't exactly a candidate for Player of the Year. Munchie Legaux isn't any better. Much of the rest of the team is more unknown than anything else, so it seems a bit strange that Cincinnati is such a strong pick for number two, much less getting two first place votes.
I definitely see Rutgers as the second-best team in the conference. Sure, there is definitely some uncertainty as to how the fresh faces on defense can replicate the production from last season's unit, but the offense is stacked. RU arguably boasts the best offensive line in the conference, and a strong O-line always gives you a good chance at a league title. Combine that with the experience returning at each skill position (Nova, Coleman, Huggins), and you have a formula for a very competitive season.
What do you think? Cast your vote for where Rutgers will finish this season in the poll below. Leave a comment on where you think other teams will finish. More coverage from media day to come.