Ranking the Easiest AAC Non-Conference Schedules

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AAC Non-Conference Schedules

The best way to measure one conference up against another is to look at non-conference. The 2022 AAC non-conference schedules are all over the place but every team has at least one Power 5 team on the schedule.

In this series, we will continue to look at each team’s out-of-conference slate and rank them based on difficulty. There are some teams who have serious gauntlets. Other teams have a cakewalk. With a strong showing, the AAC can solidify itself as the top Group of 5 conference in the nation.

The Easiest AAC Non-Conference Schedules

Temple: @ Duke, vs Lafayette (FCS), vs Rutgers, vs UMASS

The 2021 edition of the Temple Owls was…bad. Former Georgia quarterback, D’Wan Mathis struggled in his seven appearances. He’s a solid athlete and showed flashes last year but he was never fully healthy. We will see this fall if 100% healthy Mathis can beat out North Dakota State transfer, Quincy Patterson.

Temple split its non-conference slate last year. One of those losses was a 61-14 beatdown at the hands of Rutgers. Yes, that Rutgers. The Owls will face off against a pair of P5 programs but they’re two of the worst in Duke and Rutgers. Even then, if they don’t make any progress, they’ll experience the same.

With the easiest AAC non-conference schedule, the entirely-new coaching staff at Temple will have a shot to impress right off the bat.

Houston: @ UTSA, @ Texas Tech, vs Kansas, vs Rice

The Houston Cougars were one of the best Group of 5 teams last year and with an easier non-conference slate and most of their pieces returning, they’ll do it again. Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell come back and are looking to light it up once again. If there’s going to be a team to unseat Cincinnati in their final season in the AAC together before they move to the Big 12, it’ll be Houston.

Last year, the Cougars won three of its four non-conference games. That lone loss? To a Texas Tech squad that they’ll be able to avenge this year. Good news for Houston, they’ll play the two worst Big 12 teams this year. They’ll serve as a nice preview for the future of the conference moving forward.

Of course, it’s interesting that Houston is the only one of the AAC non-conference schedules that do not feature a single FCS team. UTSA will be a more difficult match and one to watch if you enjoy G5 v G5 action (as you should).

Tulane: vs UMASS, vs Alcorn State (FCS), @ Kansas State, vs Southern Miss

Towards the bottom of the 2021 AAC standings, the Tulane Green Wave struggled as a whole but were a better team than their (2-10) record indicates. They lost to Oklahoma by just five, UAB by seven. In conference, they lost three games by less than a score. Flip those losses and we are looking at a bowl-eligible, exciting (7-5) team.

This year’s schedule is significantly lighter than last. Quarterback Michael Pratt is an under-the-radar stud who, in two years, has thrown for 4,187 yards and 41 touchdowns. Against UMASS and Alcorn State (FCS), Pratt and the Green Wave offense should look good.

Kansas State is a middle-of-the-road Big 12 program that will be a tough out behind former Nebraska quarterback, Adrian Martinez, and continually underrated running back, Deuce Vaughn. Southern Miss was not a great team last year but is a popular pick to surprise in its first season in the Sun Belt.

SMU: @ North Texas, vs Lamar (FCS), @ Maryland, vs TCU

The difficulty of the AAC non-conference schedules is beginning to ramp up with the SMU Mustangs. Could they be the next current AAC team on the move? Well, probably not but once the dust settles, they may be standing atop a considerably weaker conference. They burst out of the gate by winning each of their non-conference foes last year but fell to each of the best in the conference.

Former Oklahoma quarterback, Tanner Mordecai, returns to follow up his ridiculous 2021 season. North Texas was an above-average Conference-USA team last year and Lamar (FCS) should be an easy victory.

Maryland has been talented but resides in a gauntlet of a division. Taulia Tagovailoa is an underrated B1G quarterback and has some serious weapons. TCU was not great last year, overall. SMU should be expected to win this matchup of DFW programs as they did last year.

East Carolina: vs NC State, vs Old Dominion, vs Campbell (FCS), @ BYU

Last year, ECU split its non-conference slate after dropping close games to Appalachian State and South Carolina and beating a really solid Marshall team. Holton Ahlers is going into what feels like his 10th year and has been one of the better quarterbacks in the conference. He’s already racked up 10,225 yards and 69 touchdowns. He’s just 1,766 yards and 17 touchdowns away from setting career marks for the school.

Right out of the gate, NC State will be a test. ECU has shown that it can hang with “the big boys” and NC State is a better than average AAC team. Old Dominion was alright in the Conference-USA last year and will make the switch to the Sun Belt this fall. they’ll be more difficult than we tend to expect.

Finally, BYU is going to be good, yet again. The Cougars are in the middle of a stretch of 10-win seasons that should not likely end this fall.

Last Year as the Top Group of 5?

2022 is the final year where the AAC will feature Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston, the three top programs. With these three departing, there are growing concerns that the Sun Belt will overtake the AAC as the premier Group of 5 conference. Let’s put those concerns to bed: yes, the Sun Belt will be king of the G5.

After losing those three, the ACC will bring in Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA. They’ll be big, but they won’t look as tough. For the time being, however, a few of the ACC non-conference schedules are actually really tough.

For More:

Mid-American: EasiestHardest
Conference-USA: EasiestHardest
Mountain West: EasiestHardest
Sun Belt: EasiestHardest
American Athletic: EasiestHardest
Pac-12: EasiestHardest
Big 12: EasiestHardest
ACC: EasiestHardest
SEC: EasiestHardest
Big Ten: Easiest; Hardest

 

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