Study: Common factors in the 4 AAC champions

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday June 21, 2017

The American Athletic Conference has been around for four years since changing from the Big East, producing four different champions. How do you win the AAC? Here’s what the four champs have done against AAC opponents.

*There was a 3-way tie in 2014, so we picked the highest-ranked team that didn't lose to another

- You have to be dominant on one side of the ball. Houston, Memphis and UCF each had one of the league’s best offenses, while Temple had the top defense in 2016.

- But all four were still in the top half of the league in scoring defense.

- Turnover margin is also key. All four had a positive margin and finished near the top of the league.

- All four teams had great quarterback play from multi-year starters.  

2013 UCF:
JR Blake Bortles: 3,581 passing yards, 67% completions, 25 TD, 9 INT

2014 Memphis:
SO Paxton Lynch: 3,031 passing yards, 62% completions, 22 TD, 9 INT

2015 Houston:
JR Greg Ward: 2,827 passing yards, 1,114 rushing yards, 67% comp, 17 TD, 6 INT

2016 Temple:
SR P.J. Walker: 3,295 passing yards, 58% completions, 22 TD, 13 INT

And Navy had a record-breaking QB in Will Worth in 2016, but he was injured earlier in the AAC title game loss to Temple.

- There haven’t been a lot of close wins by the champs, other than 2013 UCF, which is also the only undefeated conference champ of the group.

- What’s in store for 2017? USF returns 16 starters, including QB Quinton Flowers with new head coach Charlie Strong. Houston has 15 returning starters, but Tom Herman and Greg Ward are gone. Memphis has 15 returning starters, including QB Riley Ferguson, and you know Navy will be in the mix again.

See CoachingSearch’s 2017 studies here

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to