2024 AAC Power Rankings: Tulane and Memphis Take Control With SMU Gone

    With 14 teams battling to win the conference in 2024, who will challenge Tulane and Memphis for top spot in our preseason AAC Power Rankings?

    The reigning champion SMU Mustangs have taken their talents to the ACC, leaving the American Athletic Conference to be fought over by multiple teams. The Army Black Knights join the conference to even the numbers, leaving more competition in the middle of the pack.

    There are a few teams that are consistently at the top, but who will take the top spot in the conference? Our preseason 2024 AAC Power Rankings dive into the teams to beat this year.

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    2024 AAC Power Rankings

    When examining the 14 teams in the AAC, we will be taking a look at the talent they lost, who they have brought in, and how coaching staff and schedules stack up against the rest of the conference. There could be some surprises, with potentially four to five teams who could be the best team in the AAC in 2024.

    14) Temple Owls

    After their 3-9 season in 2023, the Temple Owls have been active in the transfer portal. With starting quarterback E.J. Warner departed for conference rival Rice, Montana’s Clifton McDowell and Rutgers’ Evan Simon will compete for the starting job. Temple lost their top four tacklers from 2023, leaving their defense with a lot of work to be done ahead of 2024.

    13) East Carolina Pirates

    To say the 2023 season for the East Carolina Pirates was rough is an understatement, going 2-10 with only one FBS win over Florida Atlantic. The team stayed busy in the transfer portal, picking up key players, including Missouri quarterback Jake Garcia and Missouri linebacker Dameon Wilson.

    Linebacker Mike Edwards III returns for his senior year after racking up 59 tackles last season. The Pirates brought in good talent, but will it lead to improvement in 2024? Our preseason 2024 AAC Power Rankings suggest a tough road ahead.

    12) Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

    Four different quarterbacks took snaps for the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes last year, with the team finishing 4-8 on the year. Freshman Cardell Williams showed the most promise, and he’ll be back for the program in 2024.

    Leading the defense will be linebacker Julien Simon who had 58 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two pass deflections in his sophomore year. If Williams can make big strides for the Golden Hurricanes, this team should show improvement in the 2024 campaign.

    11) UAB Blazers

    The UAB Blazers went 4-8 in the first year under head coach Trent Dilfer. They lost 17 players to the transfer portal, with only nine heading to Birmingham to bolster the roster.

    Quarterback Jacob Zeno made significant strides in his junior year, completing over 73% of his passes with 20 touchdowns to nine interceptions. UAB will lean on Zeno to carry the offense throughout the year.

    10) Florida Atlantic Owls

    The Florida Atlantic Owls also took a big hit in the transfer portal, losing 20 players, including quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Daniel Richardson and star wide receiver LaJohntay Wester, who will line up for Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes in 2024.

    Marshall’s Cam Fancher becomes the next quarterback, with five wide receivers entering from the transfer portal to help the passing game and mitigate Wester’s departure. It’ll be an up-and-down year for the Owls if they are not solid at quarterback.

    9) Navy Midshipmen

    After losing to Army in the season’s final game, the Navy Midshipmen found themselves with a 5-7 overall record and missing a bowl game in head coach Brian Newberry’s first year. The quarterback position is a big question, with Braxton Woodson and Blake Horvath set to battle for the starting job this spring.

    Linebacker Colin Ramos is the star on defense after producing 110 tackles, four pass deflections, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery last year. Navy should have no problems sticking to what they do best — running the ball and strong defense — but can they get over the six-win mark.

    8) Charlotte 49ers

    Last season wasn’t so kind for the Charlotte 49ers, going 3-9 in Biff Poggi’s first season at the helm, but the work they did in the transfer portal gives hope this team could surprise people and helps boost the program up our AAC Power Rankings.

    Florida quarterback Max Brown and Michigan running back CJ Stokes joined the team among 18 players who transferred to Charlotte. All the top passing targets for the 49ers are back, giving hope that the school could be in bowl contention.

    7) Army Black Knights

    Army closed the 2023 season strongly with four straight wins, including the Top 25 Air Force Falcons and bitter rival Navy, ensuring they captured the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.

    The offense appears to be mostly returning, but the defense is losing eight of their top 10 tacklers from last year. If their defense can gel together quickly, the Black Knights could be in bowl game contention.

    6) North Texas Mean Green

    The North Texas Mean Green took a big hit in the transfer portal, losing quarterback Chandler Rogers, running back Ayo Adeyi, wide receiver Ja’Mori Maclin, and a total of 25 players.

    The school was able to find some replacements, with TCU quarterback Chandler Morris joining the school, as well as running backs Tre Bradford (LSU) and Zach Evans (Minnesota). There’s a lot unknown about North Texas, but there’s talent on the roster to suggest the program can be competitive in head coach Eric Morris’ second year.

    5) Rice Owls

    The Rice Owls were in the middle of the pack in the AAC last fall, making a bowl game last season. However, they lost starting quarterback J.T. Daniels following his retirement announcement.

    MORE: 2024 AAC Football Schedule 

    Former Temple signal-caller E.J. Warner enters the team as a potential replacement. Rice will need someone to fill the void left by top pass catcher Luke McCaffrey’s departure for the NFL, but in Warner’s hands the offense shouldn’t miss a beat and that potential powers the program’s place in our AAC Power Rankings.

    4) UTSA Roadrunners

    The UTSA Roadrunners have been one of the top teams in the AAC over the last few seasons but now have the challenge of replacing linebacker Trey Moore — who led the team with 14 sacks — after his transfer to Texas, and quarterback Frank Harris, who retired from football after his final collegiate campaign.

    Owen McCown and Eddie Lee Marburger will compete for the starting quarterback job, but neither are on the same level as Harris, posing questions for the offensive direction. Despite the departures, the Roadrunners should be competitive. Head coach Jeff Traylor has kept his team strong since 2020, which should mean another solid year for the school.

    3) South Florida Bulls

    The South Florida Bulls are a team on the rise after going 7-6 last season. Quarterback Byrum Brown had a stellar redshirt freshman year, producing over 4,000 yards of offense with 37 total touchdowns and leading the team in passing and rushing yards.

    After a strong recruiting class this year, the Bulls look poised to make some noise in the AAC under second-year head coach Alex Golesh and could potentially step up in SMU’s absence.

    2) Memphis Tigers

    One of the best passing attacks in the AAC is back, with key players like quarterback Seth Henigan and wide receiver Roc Taylor leading the Memphis Tigers.

    Leading tackler Chandler Martin returns after registering 94 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions a season ago. The Tigers have been consistently among the top two-three teams in the conference, which shouldn’t change in 2024.

    1) Tulane Green Wave

    With SMU out of the picture, the AAC is the Tulane Green Wave’s conference to dominate. The Green Wave may have lost quarterback Michael Pratt to the NFL, but running back Makhi Hughes returns after producing over 1,300 rushing yards in his redshirt freshman campaign.

    MORE: 2024 AAC Transfer Portal Rankings

    Their receiving core will look different, with four receivers arriving to replace Tennessee Volunteers-bound Chris Brazzell II, including Alabama’s Shazz Preston and USC’s Mario Williams. All that firepower should make Tulane a strong candidate to run the tables, regardless of Pratt’s departure.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football’ transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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