Cincinnati, coming off an American Athletic Conference championship and top-10 ranking in the 2020 season, has been selected to win the AAC title in 2021 in the conference's preseason media poll released on Wednesday. The Bearcats received 22 of 24 possible first-place votes with UCF picking up the other two.
Expectations are high for Cincinnati in 2021. The team returns 16 starters from 2020 and will play in back-to-back nonconference games at Indiana and Notre Dame. UCF, meanwhile, enters its first year under coach Gus Malzahn after Josh Heupel left for the same job at Tennessee. The second-place finish represents only a slight drop-off for the Knights, which have been picked to win the last three AAC titles.
SMU, Houston and Memphis round out the media's top five. The Mustangs and Cougars return 18 and 20 starters, respectively, with the latter coming off of a difficult seasons due to COVID-19 that included many cancellations. Tulsa, last year's surprise team in the AAC, is picked sixth.
The entire preseason poll can be viewed below. First-place votes are in parenthesis.