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Previewing the AAC, USF-Wisconsin with The Daily Stampede

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The American continues its claim to “Power 6” status with a couple Top 15 contenders and at least one potential Big Ten upset in 2019.

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl - Marshall v South Florida Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The weirdness of the American Athletic Conference means we have to think about tomato cans like Tulsa and juggernauts like UCF or Cincinnati in the same sequence. But that means there are also schools, like South Florida and Central Florida, big and popular enough to have their own blogs! And others that aren’t.

So this might be Part 1 of the AAC preview, or this might BE the AAC preview! Either way, if you’re up for learning about the USF-wisconsin matchup, we’ve got you. And more!

Regardless, this one was a lot of fun. My thanks to longtime commenter (and good-looking Northwestern fan) Carl Zee, who was willing to answer my email and get me in touch with The Daily Stampede, SBNation’s home for all things USF Bulls sports. From there, Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) and the whole The Daily Stampede herd helped us out, answering all my questions and being a lot of fun in the process. Give them a follow at The Daily Stampede and on Twitter @StampedeSBN!

OTE: Having represented the G5 60% of the time in the New Year’s Six bowls, has the American cemented itself as the 6th power conference through teams like UCF and Houston? Could Cincinnati be the next team to break into that upper echelon? [If not, offer us a team that could!]

TDS: In general, you’d think the AAC is the 6th power. Run the table in the AAC and you’re almost a shoe-in for the NY6 game. But this year? Cincinnati to win the AAC this year seems about right, but they’ve got a tough out-of-conference schedule with UCLA and tOSU, so going to a NY6 bowl may be far-fetched should they win the conference. This might be a toss-up year for the NY6.

Of course, if Brandon Wimbush proves he’s capable of running the UCF offense effectively, all bets are off. UCF runs the table again and everyone has to hear about how disrespected they are for another 12 months.

OTE: Give us your thoughts on UConn leaving the AAC for the Big East. What’s the end-game for the Huskies, and does this move say more about the viability of football at UConn or the improvement and direction of the AAC?

TDS: UConn leaving is like your college professor dropping your lowest test grade (football), but docking you two points on your other tests (WBB, baseball). It’s inconvenient, but you’re very much OK with it.

Preview

wisconsin badgers at South Florida Bulls

Friday, August 30 | 6pm CT | ESPN |
uw -12.5 | O/U 59.5

OTE: 7-0 to 7-6. History-making. There’s no sugarcoating the almost-Full Zook that Charlie Strong and your South Florida Bulls pulled in 2018, but Charlie Strong and the Bulls have the chance to get off on the right foot in 2019 with a Friday night game in August against the wisconsin badgers. Running back Jordan Cronkite has an experienced line in front of him, and new OC Kerwin Bell brings a high-flying offense from D-II Valdosta State that should empower playmakers from WRs like Michigan transfer Eddie McDoom and speedster Randall St. Felix to QB Blake Barnett.

So how do the Bulls match up with the badgers—can they stop the run? Should we expect [insert mediocre QB here] to have a career day throwing the ball, or can Strong come up with the goods to nab the Bulls a home win?

TDS: The Bulls offense has plenty of talent at the skill positions (Jordan Cronkrite, Johnny Ford, Eddie McDoom, Mitchell Wilcox, among others) to compete with Wisconsin.

The biggest question: Will the offensive line be up for the challenge? They started three freshmen last season, and looked every bit of being freshmen. If they can’t pass block, forget about any high-flying offense.

On the defensive side, if the Bulls keep Jonathan Taylor to under 200 yards, it has to be considered a win. The Bulls’ biggest weakness right now is at defensive tackle. Having an All-American at center for the Badgers scares the hell out of us. If North Carolina transfer KJ Sails gains immediate eligibility, the secondary turns into a top-notch unit (but we’re still waiting...)

Edit: KJ Sails is playing, the secondary should be a top-notch unit, and we’re all drinking like it’s Gasparilla!

Poll

Pick ‘em.

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    South Florida
    (32 votes)
  • 71%
    wisconsin
    (80 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now

OTE: While badger fans are no stranger to games in Florida, it’s perhaps odd that it’s not a bowl game, as wisconsin hasn’t been there for a non-conference game since 1988 (a loss to Miami, of course, as it wasn’t 1993 yet). If our oversized friends in cardinal and white head down to Tampa, what’s changed since they visited on New Year’s Day 2015? Any recommendations on gameday at Houlihan’s Raymond James Stadium?

TDS: Sparkman Wharf, next to Amaile Arena. Anyone who’s been here before might know the general vicinity as “Channelside,” but it’s been completely revamped. You won’t recognize it. Great things to do around there for families and college-aged kids. The Florida Aquarium is right next door as well.

If you’re looking for local beer, Cigar City and Coppertail are probably the best breweries of the lot, but there’s a ton of local places to take advantage of.

Also hit up Armature Works for food, just north of downtown Tampa. Two words: Sushi. Burrito.

OTE: Here’s the entire B1G-AAC slate:
Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Michigan State Spartans (8/30)
wisconsin at South Florida (8/30)
Cincinnati Bearcats at Ohio State Buckeyes (9/7)
Illinois Fighting Illini at UConn Huskies (9/7)
Maryland Terrapins at Temple Owls (9/14)
UConn at Indiana Hoosiers (9/21)
Pick as many or as few of them as you want, or feel free to just give us an overall W-L total.

TDS: 0-6 or 1-5 is very real possibility. UConn faces Illinois, and Indiana: 0-2. Temple hired Rod Carey and they face Maryland: 0-3. Tulsa faces Michigan State: 0-4. Cincinnati faces tOSU: Probably 0-5. USF faces Wisconsin: 0-6 with a non-zero chance at 1-5. WOOF.


Thanks to Carl Zee, Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN), and the whole The Daily Stampede herd for giving us a shout! (UConn Blog, if you’re reading this, still can’t wait to talk to you...) Give them a follow at The Daily Stampede and on Twitter @StampedeSBN.

Poll

How many games does the Big Ten win against the AAC?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    6-0! We want UCF!
    (36 votes)
  • 29%
    5-1! We still want UCF!
    (24 votes)
  • 4%
    4-2! (We still want UCF.)
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    3-3! (We’d still play UCF.)
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    2-4? (Still. UCF.)
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    1-5. (UCF.)
    (4 votes)
  • 9%
    0-6. (The point is, UCF isn’t THAT good.)
    (8 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now