Cincinnati chosen as favorite in AAC preseason football media poll

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IRVING, Texas – The Cincinnati Bearcats, who finished the 2020 season ranked No. 8 nationally, has been tabbed as the preseason favorite in the 2021 American Athletic Conference preseason media poll.

Cincinnati received 22 of a possible 24 first-place votes in the media poll to finish with 262 points. UCF had two first-place votes and was second in the poll with 241 points, ending a streak of three consecutive seasons as the favorite in The American.

The Bearcats, who have gone 31-6 since the start of the 2018 season, went 9-1 overall and 6-0 in American Athletic Conference play last season, winning the American Athletic Conference Championship Game for the first time before falling to Georgia on a last-second field goal in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Cincinnati has been ranked in 28 consecutive national polls, dating to Oct. 6, 2019, and carries a 20-game winning streak at Nippert Stadium, marking the fourth-longest active home-field winning streak in the nation (behind only Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State). Luke Fickell’s squad will be led by quarterback Desmond Ridder, the 2020 American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and a defense headlined by All-America cornerback Ahmad Gardner.

UCF was a clear choice of the media to reach The American Championship Game in 2021 as the Knights were second in the preseason poll. Former Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn begins his first year on the Knights’ sideline, while quarterback Dillon Gabriel returns after he led the NCAA in passing (357.0 yards per game) last season. Gabriel’s career average of 314.0 passing yards per game is the best of any active player in FBS.

SMU edged Houston for the No. 3 spot in the preseason poll. The Mustangs return 18 starters from last year’s team that won seven of its first eight games and was ranked as high as No. 16 nationally. The Cougars, who were hampered by the cancellation or postponement of eight scheduled games last season, look for more stability this season behind the return of 20 starters.

The 2020 season saw The American place a team in a New Year’s Six bowl for the fifth time in the seven-year history of the College Football Playoff/New Year’s Six structure.

2021 American Athletic Conference Preseason Media Poll

  Team (First-Place Votes)Points
 1.Cincinnati (22)262
 2.UCF (2)241
 3.SMU188
 4.Houston181
 5.Memphis168
 6.Tulsa153
 7.Tulane132
 8.East Carolina85
  Navy85
 10.Temple46
 11.South Florida43

Preseason Poll Notes

The favorite in the American Athletic Conference preseason media poll has ended up winning the conference title twice in the league’s first seven seasons:

 YearFavoriteConference FinishChampion
 2013Louisville2ndUCF
 2014Cincinnatit-1stUCF, Cincinnati, Memphis
 2015Cincinnatit-3rd EastHouston
 2016Houstont-3rd WestTemple
 2017South Floridat-2nd EastUCF
 2018UCF1st EastUCF
 2019UCF2nd EastMemphis
 2020UCFt-3rdCincinnati

All-Time Preseason Media Polls

2020  
 TeamPoints
1.UCF (10)204
2.Cincinnati (7)201
3.Memphis (2)192
4.SMU146
5.Navy (1)125
6.Tulane118
7.Houston114
8.Temple88
9.Tulsa49
10.East Carolina42
11.South Florida41
   
2019  
American Championship
 TeamPoints
 UCF12
 Cincinnati8
 Memphis6
 Houston4
   
East Division
 TeamPoints
1.UCF (19)169
2.Cincinnati (11)157
3.South Florida107
4.Temple101
5.East Carolina66
6.UConn30
   
West Division
 TeamPoints
1.Memphis (15)165
2.Houston (14)162
3.Tulane108
4.SMU (1)87
5.Navy70
6.Tulsa38
   
2018  
American Championship
 TeamPoints
 UCF19
 Memphis7
 South Florida3
 Houston1
   
East Division
 TeamPoints
1.UCF (25)175
2.South Florida (5)140
3.Temple132
4.Cincinnati91
5.UConn51
6.East Carolina41
   
West Division
 TeamPoints
1.Memphis (23)171
2.Houston (4)146
3.Navy (3)129
4.SMU72
5.Tulane68
6.Tulsa44
   
2017  
American Championship
 TeamPoints
 South Florida26
 Houston2
 Memphis1
 Navy1
   
East Division
 TeamPoints
1.South Florida (30)169
2.UCF126
3.Temple119
4.Cincinnati100
5.East Carolina63
6.UConn42
   
West Division
 TeamPoints
1.Memphis (22)169
2.Houston (6)137
3.Navy (1)128
4.Tulsa (1)102
5.SMU64
6.Tulane30
   
2016  
American Championship
 TeamPoints
 Houston27
 South Florida2
 Temple1
   
East Division
 TeamPoints
1.South Florida (15)164
2.Temple (9)144
3.Cincinnati (6)130
4.UConn89
5.East Carolina55
6.UCF48
   
West Division
 TeamPoints
1.Houston (30)180
2.Navy128
3.Memphis124
4.Tulsa92
5.SMU65
6.Tulane41
   
   
2015  
American Championship
 TeamPoints
 Cincinnati22
 Memphis5
 Houston2
 UCF1
   
East Division
 TeamPoints
1.Cincinnati (29)179
2.UCF (1)135
3.Temple116
4.East Carolina105
5.South Florida53
6.UConn42
   
West Division
 TeamPoints
1.Memphis (13)153
2.Houston (10)149
3.Navy (7)148
4.Tulane74
5.SMU59
6.Tulsa47
   
   
2014  
 TeamPoints
1.Cincinnati (17)311
2.UCF (7)296
3.Houston (6)268
4.East Carolina262
5.SMU158
6.South Florida157
7.Memphis133
8.Temple105
9.UConn98
 Tulane98
11.Tulsa94
   
   
2013  
 TeamPoints
1.Louisville (28)298
2.Cincinnati (2)257
3.Rutgers240
4.UCF210
5.South Florida155
6.Houston134
7.UConn131
8.SMU118
9.Temple60
10.Memphis47

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