So how do we feel about this conference and its teams? There was a whole lot of parity last season, and a ton of turnover in the offseason, so I figure I'm best off just pulling some guesses out of my ass. Here goes nothing...
ALRIGHT, WHO THE HELL LET THE CADETS IN HERE. PUT THE CINNAMON DOWN, YOU LUNK HEADS, NOBODY DOES THAT ANYMORE. Alright, look. They can't just get their own damned post, because that would go to their heads. I am totally O.K. with thinking they can pull off four wins - they have two FCS opponents (I KNOW THEY LOST TO YALE LAST YEAR SHUT UP), so if they can beat two out of Tulane, UConn (see below), Eastern Michigan and Wake Forest, they're there.
The Tigers were good last season and return enough skill that they are a near-lock for eight wins. Really, that means this all boils down to whether you feel they can beat one out of Cinci, Navy and Houston. For a team that scared the shit out of UCLA and Ole Miss last season, that sounds very doable to me.
This isn't an official line, but let's go with it. We all know that Navy has a lot of talent, a lot of experience, and a lot of recent success. Add in the fact that Tulane is arguably their sixth easiest opponent this coming season, and I can express extreme confidence that the Middies can top this line. I mean hell, they could go undefeated if about a dozen different things go just right.
If nothing else, the Mustangs will be drastically different this season under Chad Morris, which is a good thing. So much so, I can actually have some confidence predicting a win over James Madison despite their status on the short list of good FCS teams. I would like to think they can beat North Texas at home given their improvements and UNT's... not improvements. That leaves a win against either Tulsa or USF, and I think I can feel confident betting against Willie Taggart. Speaking of which...
South Florida 4
This is a team that will absolutely destroy their opening FCS opponent in Florida A&M. And then... well... they will not be a favorite in any other game they play all season. O.K., maybe against Syracuse? Just make sure that someone good wears #44. As soon as you find a good player, that is. They aren't guaranteed to go 1-11, but I definitely do not have enough confidence in the team that even their own blog won't support where I would be OK saying this is a team that might flirt with bowl eligibility.
When I take a look at what you did last season, how you changed in the off-season, and your upcoming schedule... and I am willing to place money on you not improving on your win total from last season without so much as flinching, that is generally not a good thing.
Central Florida, Temple, ECU, Cincinnati 7
I think it says all you need to know about The American that half the teams in the conference are predicted to win 7-9 games, but only two are projected to win less than four. Grade school math tells you this cannot be, but these teams are so close to each other that it's just too soon to tell. Houston has a lot of returning talent and a coach who will make them even better. Temple brings back everybody but they weren't spectacular last season. ECU has to replace a lot of offensive production and UCF never had any to begin with.
Tulane, Tulsa 5
Tulane will clearly beat Maine, but when you look at the rest of their schedule, I could literally see them winning anywhere from three to eight games. I'm not confident enough in this team to put money on them going bowling, but I'm not not confident in that. Y'know? Of course you don't. Tulsa, meanwhile, has as many as five winnable games, but that's not the same as five wins.