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Tulane ranks atop 2023 AAC Preseason Media Poll, newcomer UTSA places second

The reigning champion Green Wave are projected to repeat in 2023 under the direction of Michael Pratt.

NCAA Football: American Athletic Conference Championship-Central Florida at Tulane Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The American Athletic Conference held its first in-person media days since the 2019 in a first-time location of Arlington, TX.

On the second day of AAC Media Days, the conference preseason media poll was officially released. Atop the rankings was reigning league champion Tulane, fresh off a 12-2 record and historic Cotton Bowl victory. Head coach Willie Fritz looks to run it back with the Green Wave, equipped with eight 2022 All-AAC selections, including quarterback Michael Pratt. Despite winning the conference, Tulane checked in at No. 7 in the 2022 preseason media poll. Since the dawn of the AAC Championship Game in 2015, the preseason media poll has only selected the correct champion twice — 2018 UCF and 2021 Cincinnati.

Checking in one step behind Tulane in the preseason poll was one of the six newcomer programs from Conference USA. UTSA garnered the No. 2 ranking after securing its second consecutive CUSA championship last December, recording 11+ wins for the second-straight year. The Roadrunners enter their new league with a sense of continuity, headlined by fourth-year head coach Jeff Traylor and reigning CUSA MVP Frank Harris at quarterback.

Exactly half of the 14 AAC head coaches in 2023 enter their first year on the job, and those teams are primarily populated near the basement of the poll. Charlotte checked in at last place, while South Florida held the penultimate position, as those programs look to break in Biff Poggi and Alex Golesh, respectively. The highest ranked team led by a first-year head coach was Florida Atlantic, which checked in No. 5 in its inaugural AAC media day. The lowest ranked team led by an incumbent head coach was Temple, which aims to improve upon a 3-9 campaign with in year two of Stan Drayton era.

Five teams received first-place votes, with Tulane (20) leading the way, followed by UTSA (9) and SMU (3). Memphis and UAB collected one first-place vote apiece.

Below is a full summary of the preseason poll, as voted on by the media:

2023 AAC Preseason Media Poll

Rank Team (1st place votes) Points 2022 Record
Rank Team (1st place votes) Points 2022 Record
1 Tulane (20) 457 12-2
2 UTSA (9) 440 11-3
3 SMU (3) 397 7-6
4 Memphis (1) 362 7-6
5 Florida Atlantic 312 5-7
6 East Carolina 303 8-5
7 North Texas 261 7-7
8 UAB (1) 209 7-6
9 Navy 199 4-8
10 Temple 182 3-9
11 Tulsa 160 5-7
12 Rice 138 5-8
13 South Florida 86 1-11
14 Charlotte 64 3-9