The 2013 Season: Top 10 AAC Memories
By Jackson Wang
10. The Emergence Of Storm Johnson
What a jump for Storm Johnson from his sophomore year to his junior year. In his second year at UCF, Johnson had just 507 rushing yards and four touchdowns. In his 2013 campaign, he ran for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns. Johnson was a major reason why the Knights were so successful on offensive this year.
9. Cincinnati Fails To Capture Conference Title
Under first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville, the Bearcats didn’t win a conference championship for the first time in five years. Cincinnati cracked under pressure this season when the lights turned on, including an overtime loss to Louisville in the final game of the regular season and a bowl game defeat to North Carolina.
8. The Rise Of John O’Korn
Houston, we do not have a problem at quarterback. Freshman John O’Korn stepped right up this season when he earned the starting quarterback position. He led the young Cougars to an 8-5 record with the help of his 3,117 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Most of the offensive starters are returning next year, and with O’Korn at the helm, Houston could contend for an AAC championship.
7. UConn's Struggles Continue
Since Randy Edsall left UConn for the Maryland job, the Huskies have struggled to produce a winning season. Just three years ago, UConn was completing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. Since then, the Huskies haven’t even had a bowl invite. There are a lot of problems in East Hartford, and many UConn fans are hoping Bob Diaco can be their savior.
6. Tom Hornsey Wins Ray Guy Award
For the first time in 21 years, Memphis has an award winner. Senior Tom Hornsey earned the Ray Guy Award with his 2013 performance, averaging more than 45 yards per punt, including a career long of 79 yards. Hornsey can thank the struggling Memphis offense for this award, as they gave him many opportunities this season.
5. Rutgers Departs For Big Ten
It was the Scarlet Knights' first and last year with the AAC conference. The team's performance showed fans that they are not ready for the Big Ten. Rutgers went 6-7 on the year, including a 3-5 conference record. Plus, they struggled against top teams like Louisville, UCF and Notre Dame. If the Scarlet Knights want to complete next season, they better start making some changes.
4. Teddy Bridgewater’s Push For The NFL
It was inevitable that Teddy Bridgewater was going to leave for the NFL after his junior season at Louisville. But with the numbers that Bridgewater produced this season, a 71 percent completion rate, nearly 4,000 passing yards, and 31 touchdowns, he showed scouts that he’s ready to be drafted, maybe even first overall.
3. Blake Bortles, Overnight Sensation
Most people didn’t know who Blake Bortles was until the Louisville game in October. He made a name for himself that game and NFL scouts took notice. But it was his performance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl that solidified him as one of the top five quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Bortles kept the UCF offense punishing the Baylor defense all night as he threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
2. Charlie Strong To Texas
Texas must love defense. Charlie Strong has always been known as a defense-first kind of guy, especially with his two national championships as a defensive coordinator at Florida. Strong’s defense certainly helped Louisville earn its 12-1 record by allowing opposing teams to gain little more than 250 yards per game. Texas hasn’t been playing Longhorns football for the last few years and fans in Austin are hoping Strong’s defense can make them a powerhouse once again.
1. UCF Wins Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
This game was a David versus Goliath type of matchup. UCF was given little chance to win this game as 17-point underdogs. Everyone knew Baylor could put up points, and fast. But many people had not seen UCF’s offense this season and they showed fans that they can score points just as fast. And once Bortles got the Knights moving, they never looked back.