NEWPORT, R.I. — The Houston Cougars, 13-1 overall and 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference in 2015, have been picked to repeat as AAC champions in the league’s 2016 preseason media poll, the conference announced Tuesday.
The AAC held its media days Monday and Tuesday.
Houston returns 11 starters, including quarterback Greg Ward Jr., one of seven returning Maxwell Award semifinalists from last season. The Cougars received 27 of a possible 30 votes to win the American championship and all 30 votes to finish first in the West Division.
USF, named the favorite to win the East Division, received two votes to win the championship, which will be played Saturday, Dec. 3 at the home site of the division champion with the best conference record. USF received 15 votes to win the East and was followed by Temple (nine first-place votes) and Cincinnati (six). They were followed by UConn, East Carolina and UCT.
In the West, Houston was followed by Navy, Memphis, Tulsa, SMU and Tulane.