With all the changes to the American Athletic Conference in 2014, glancing at the AAC preseason football media poll isn’t enough. You might need an atlas.
But NCAA realignment has little to do with geography. Louisville departs the AAC for the ACC and Louisville, Ky., is neither Atlantic nor Coastal. Rutgers, hailing from New Jersey, heads to the Midwest and the Big Ten while new to the AAC for 2014 are East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa.
Need that atlas yet?
Despite having to process new faces, media members still came up with their predictions. Cincinnati is the AAC media favorite as it returns six starters from a defense that ranked ninth nationally in 2013. Central Florida is coming off a 12-1 season and a thrashing of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Lurking behind these frontrunners are the Houston Cougars, whose upside is dangerous with 2014 a possible breakthrough year.
Here are five reasons why the Cougars will defy the rankings and win the AAC.