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2013 CFN Final AAC Rankings & Roundup
Posted Jan 13, 2014

American Athletic 2013 Fearless Predictions, Game Stories, Game of the Week, Roundup & Standings

CFN 2013 Final Season Rankings | The Top Ten
11 to 25 | 26 to 50 | 51 to 75 | 76 to 100 | Bottom 25
By Conference ACC | AAC | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA
Independents | MAC | M-West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt

The Formula's Components: 
1. Wins. - If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
2. Quality Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each win counts as 1.
3. Elite Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5. Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn't added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game counts as one.
4. Bad Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer or a loss to a FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
5. Bad Win - The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a D-IAA team. Each win counts as minus 0.25. 
6. Elite Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
7. Point Differential - Points for minus points against divided by 100. 
8. Winning Percentage - To take losses into account, winning percentage is in the mix. Total wins is the tie-breaker followed by winning percentage.

Remember, these rankings are based on how good the seasons were overall, and NOT based on how good the team might have been. Number next to team is the final overall season ranking.

10. UCF (12-1)
2013 CFN Season Score: 20.15
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 74
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 31

Any and all worries about whether or not the Knights were for real went bye-bye with the impressive win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. At the time, the close call loss to South Carolina didn’t seem like that big a deal, and it was considered a good try, but the team turned out to be fantastic with a season-defining win at Louisville and gut-check win after gut-check win. The problem was that it took too much to get by bad teams like Temple and USF – beating each dreg by three points and seven of the wins were by seven points or fewer, but they won the two massive games they needed to.

15. Louisville (12-1)
2013 CFN Season Score: 18.41
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 26
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 21

The Cardinals didn’t win the American Athletic title, and they didn’t go to the BCS, and they didn’t play in the national title, but the only loss came to a UCF that proved itself worthy in its Fiesta Bowl win over Baylor. There were too many close calls against mediocre teams – fighting too hard to get by Houston, Memphis and Cincinnati in November, but with a destruction of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, it was a 12-win season and 23-victory two-year run under now-Texas head coach Charlie Strong. There were only four wins over teams that finished with winning records, and there were a ridiculous seven bad wins, but the season might be remembered mostly for losing 38-35 at home to UCF>

50. Houston (8-5)
2013 CFN Season Score: 11.60
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 66
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 83

The Cougars did a decent job of finding a niche in their new, upgraded conference, starting out 5-0 and 7-1 before hanging on for dear life once the schedule got tougher. Losing to UCF and Louisville is nothing to be ashamed of, but getting blown out by Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl was a bad way to end things. Even so, overall, it was a good rally after a bad 2012.

60. Cincinnati (9-4)
2013 CFN Season Score: 9.88
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 47
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 28

It was a great year that finished with a clunk. A total bomb against Illinois – losing 45-17 to a bad team – made it seem like the Tommy Tuberville era would start out rough, but the Bearcats won eight of their next nine games, but with the loss coming to a horrible South Florida squad. Six of the nine victories were bad wins, and there was only one win over a team – Houston – that finished with a winning record. The Bearcats pushed Louisville in a 31-24 loss to close out the regular season, and got blown out by North Carolina in the Belk, but overall it was a decent nine-win campaign. It could’ve, and should’ve been more.

64. Tulane (7-6)
2013 CFN Season Score: 9.23
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 99
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 113

Forgetting for a moment that Cairo Santos missed a makeable field goal that would’ve sent the New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana-Lafayette into overtime, this really was a surprisingly great year. With four straight wins in the middle of the season, including victories over North Texas and East Carolina, there was a buffer to afford to stay in the hunt for a bowl over the second half with losses in four of the final five games. Even so, the season could’ve been a lot better without losses to South Alabama and UTSA that could’ve gone easier way, along with a loss to Florida Atlantic.

86. Rutgers (6-7)
2013 CFN Season Score: 4.79
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 48
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 40

The Scarlet Knights are going off to the Big Ten on a down note, losing four of their final five games and six of their last eight after a 3-1 start with the loss coming in a 52-51 thriller against Fresno State. Five of the six wins were against bad teams – teams that finished with three losses or fewer, or an FCS team, Norfolk State – and the loss to a bad UConn team was awful for the ranking. The O put up 17 points or fewer in six of the final seven losses.

93. SMU (5-7)
2013 CFN Season Score: 3.63
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 97
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 66

The five wins should’ve accounted for something, right? All five were bad wins, coming against five teams that finished with three losses or fewer. The offense didn’t exactly explode like a June Jones attack should, closing out with 29 points in the final three games. Injuries were part of the problem, but the horrible weather in the season finale against UCF – against a team that clinched the BCS berth - was a positive break to keep the score low in a 17-13 Knight win. Even so, SMU scored 25 points or fewer in seven games, and while the D overcame a miserable start, it wasn’t good enough.

103. Memphis (3-9)
2013 CFN Season Score: 1.14
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 105
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 99

The Tigers suffered from bad losses to Temple and Connecticut in the final two games to kill what was growing into a promising season. They pushed Louisville in a seven point loss, they battled well in a 24-17 loss to UCF, and loses to Duke and Cincinnati didn’t seem too bad in hindsight. Beating Arkansas State 31-7 was the highlight, but that was early on. There’s hope, even with the dud of a finish.

109. South Florida (2-10)
2013 CFN Season Score: -1.11
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 71
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 91

Willie Taggart’s first season was even worse than Skip Holtz’s 2012. The Bulls started out bad with a tone-setting 53-21 loss to McNeese State at home, and the offense didn’t get appreciably better scoring under 20 points in seven games. The win over Cincinnati was the big positive shocker, followed up by a win over UConn, but there wasn’t any momentum going forward with a six-game losing streak to close things out. There’s hope – the Bulls pushed UCF in a 23-20 loss, but there wasn’t any consistency.

112. Connecticut (3-9)
2013 CFN Season Score: -1.91
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 64
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 77

A complete and utter disaster under Paul Pasqualoni, the Huskies were blown out by Towson 33-18 at home to open things up, and it didn’t get any better. The late choke against Michigan turned out to be the highlight until Pasqualoni was fired, and then the team found its groove late winning its last three games. Out of the nine losses, the Michigan and South Florida games were the only ones closer than double digits.

116. Temple (2-10)
2013 CFN Season Score: -2.42
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 98
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 97

Life in the American/Big East hasn’t been good over the last two years. The season ended on a high note with a win over Memphis, and it took a late desperation drive for UCF to get out of Philadelphia with a 39-36 victory, but a home loss to Fordham and losses to Idaho and UConn were all winnable games that could’ve changed the season. There were several tight games with four games decided by four points or fewer, but it wasn’t the stepping stone year expected.

AAC Offensive Player of the Year
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – It’s a very close call, with Bridgewater edging out UCF QB Blake Bortles for the honor. Bridgewater wasn’t the reason the Cardinals failed to win the American title, going 29-of-38 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in the Oct. 18 loss to the Knights. He was the league’s top-rated quarterback on the nation’s 18th-ranked team, completing 70% of his passes, while throwing 28 touchdowns to only four picks.

AAC Defensive Player of the Year
DE Marcus Smith, Louisville – Smith put it all together in his final season as a Cardinal to become the league’s most dominant pass rusher. One of the key cogs in a defense that allowed just 12.4 points per game, he led the American with 16.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin formed a bookend that harassed opposing quarterbacks throughout the regular season.

3 Biggest Surprises
1. UCF. Hey, it was common knowledge that UCF would make a nice transition from Conference USA, but a crown and a first-ever BCS bowl invite? The Knights upped the bar, stunning Louisville, nearly doing the same to South Carolina, and losing just one time.
2. The Houston D. While not exactly known for their defensive prowess, the Cougars were plenty feisty this past season. David Gibbs did an outstanding job of firing up an aggressive, undersized unit that leads the nation with 40 takeaways.
3. Temple QB P.J. Walker. Walker began the year No. 3 on the depth chart. He ended it as the future of the Owls. In between, Walker injected the program with hope by accounting for 23 touchdowns, despite not taking over the job until early October.

3 Biggest Disappointments
1. Louisville. No program was a bigger preseason favorite to win a title than the Cardinals. Yet, they didn’t, losing to eventual champ UCF. The offense was a particular head-scratcher, loaded with talent, yet it sputtered to really take flight once the non-conference portion of the schedule ended.
2. South Florida. No, miracles were not expected in Willie Taggart’s debut, but two wins, a 32-point loss to McNeese State and a 13-point-a-game offense were unacceptable. Taggart and his staff are facing a complete reclamation project this offseason.
3. Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman. Coleman was supposed to be the best wide receiver in the American. He wasn’t even the best receiver in Piscataway. The 6-6, 220-pound senior was fourth on the Knights in receiving yards, catching just 32 balls for 473 yards and three touchdowns.

Best American Game of the Season
Oct. 18 UCF 38 … Louisville 35
The game of the year in the American lived up to the hype. The Cardinals squandered a 21-point lead—and their grip on league supremacy—losing at home when Blake Bortles connected with Jeff Godfrey with 23 seconds left. It was the game that eventually propelled the Knights to the league championship and a spot in this year’s Fiesta Bowl.

Coach of the Year
1) George O’Leary, UCF 2) Charlie Strong, Louisville 3) Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

Grading the American
UCF: A- … The Knights bucked the odds to win a league title, mastering the art of winning ugly at times and pulling out close games.

Houston: B+ … Cougars bounced back from a 5-7 disappointment to win eight regular season games. Consecutive losses to UCF, Louisville and Cincinnati were by a total of just 19 points.

Louisville: B … With their schedule, the Cards have no business finishing the year in Orlando, site of the Russell Athletic Bowl. Still, they have won 11 games, while remaining in the Top 25.

Cincinnati: B … Yeah, the 9-3 mark is solid, but early losses to Illinois and South Florida put a hard cap on this year’s Bearcat grade.

SMU: C … The Mustangs are missing the postseason for the first time since 2008. They were unable to break through in their American debut, beating one FCS team and four FBS lightweights.

Rutgers: C- … It’s been a rough year for the Scarlet Knights, who’ll be stumbling into the Big Ten in 2014. They got belted by Houston, UCF and Cincinnati, yet somehow managed to win the six games needed to bowl.

Connecticut: D … Too little, too late. The Huskies closed the year with a three-game winning streak, but only after opening with losses resulting in the firing of Paul Pasqualoni.

Temple: D … Predictably challenging first year for head coach Matt Rhule, though Owls did show some grit late in the year, nearly knocking off league champ UCF.

Memphis: D … A plucky defense kept the Tigers in plenty of games this fall. Youth and a poor offense, though, led to an 0-5 mark in games decided by 10 points or less.

South Florida: D- … Time will be required before Willie Taggart gets things turned around in Tampa. An upset of Cincinnati is all that kept the Bulls for earning an F in 2013.

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