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American Athletic Conference: Can Anyone Stop Louisville?

louisvilleflorida-wrThe Big East is no more, at least in football. In its place we have the American Athletic Conference. It is a mix of teams from the Big East and Conference USA. This year, the league will have a ringer in the Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals are on their way to the ACC in 2014 and are making a one-year pit stop in the new league. They will be an overwhelming favorite to win the conference in their only year there.

Louisville is coming off a Sugar Bowl victory last season after winning a share of the Big East championship. Two of their main rivals from the Big East, the Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers, are already in the ACC this year. So that leaves the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Cincinnati Bearcats as the chief obstacles between the Cardinals and a conference championship.

For the Cards, they have quarterback Teddy Bridgewater back and he will have two ex-Florida Gators to throw to in Robert Clark and Gerald Christian. Louisville is easily the most talented team in the league this season

There are some schools in the this conference with a lot of potential for growth. The South Florida Bulls and UCF Knights play in a hotbed of high school talent, not to mention a desirable location. They also have huge student enrollments and fan bases. The Scarlet Knights have also had success in recent years and are building a winner in the New York metropolitan area. That is a program with the potential to be a giant.

Cincinnati is another program that has had success in recent years. The Bearcats went to the Sugar Bowl in 2009 and have been to bowls the last few years. The Connecticut Huskies played in the Fiesta Bowl in 2010 as well.

The SMU Mustangs have been bowling the last two seasons and the Houston Cougars had an unbeaten regular season just two years ago.

So there is some potential in this conference, but it will take a while for the former C-USA teams to catch up with the former Big East schools.

What the conference needs to happen if they want to join the upper echelon conferences, is for UCF, USF, Houston and SMU to emerge and catch up to the rest of the BCS league’s teams. UCF will have some chances to show what they have this year when they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions and the South Carolina Gamecocks. The South Carolina game is especially big because that one will be in Orlando.

SMU has games against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas A&M Aggies and TCU Horned Frogs. Houston will take on the BYU Cougars.

If the American Athletic teams can win a few of those games, it would go a long way toward getting them into the national championship picture in the future.

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