Prognostication season, that glorious interlude between spring practice and summer camp, has dawned. And as one catchphrase-loving coach might say, we’re attacking it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Having digested the spring developments at every American Athletic Conference school, we proudly roll out our annual post-spring AAC rankings. We also proudly point out we correctly predicted last year’s divisional champions (though we picked USF and Navy as division runners-up).Teams are listed with their 2018 record in parentheses. East Division 1. Cincinnati (11-2, 6-2) The Bearcats’ resurgence under third-year coach Luke Fickell culminates with a division title. Seven starters return on each side from an 11-2 team including 2,400-yard passer Desmond Ridder and 1,300-yard rusher Michael Warren. The only significant question mark is the offensive line, where four starters were lost. Cincy gets UCF at home this season, on a Friday night (Oct. 4). We see the AAC world order shifting that evening. 2. UCF (12-1, 8-0) For all the skill and sleekness remaining on the Knights’ roster, we just don’t see them sustaining perfection for an entire regular season without McKenzie Milton. UCF remains especially loaded at tailback with speedster Adrian Killins (1,092 total yards, 8 TDs in 2018) and 1,100-yard rusher Greg McCrae. But whomever wins the QB derby (Darriel Mack Jr.? Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush?) has an impossible act to follow. 3. USF (7-6, 3-5) A third-place projection could be generous for the Bulls. The offense should be significantly better, though we still don’t know how Kerwin Bell’s system will play with inherited personnel. Defensively, questions abound at linebacker and in the secondary, though some transfers could fortify those spots. And the schedule’s soft, gooey center is sandwiched by a rigid start and finish. 4. Temple (8-5, 7-1) In each of the last two years, the Owls started sluggishly, only to gain steam down the stretch. We wouldn’t be shocked to see that pattern under new coach Rod Carey, who held no spring game. Redshirt junior Anthony Russo should retain the quarterback job, and his No. 2 and 3 receivers (Branden Mack, Isaiah Wright) return, but 1,100-yard rusher Ryquell Armstead is gone (to the Jaguars). Three of the top five tacklers are back. 5. East Carolina (3-9, 1-7) New coach Mike Houston, who led James Madison to a I-AA national title in 2016, inherits some decent offensive pieces including quarterback Holton Ahlers (1,785 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs in ’18) and receiver Blake Proehl (29 catches). But the defense, which allowed nearly 440 yards a game in ’18, forced no turnovers in the spring game. Houston’s steadily reforming the culture in Greenville; reforming the record could take longer. 6. UConn (1-11, 0-8) While the Huskies can’t possibly get worse, they aren’t likely to progress significantly enough to escape the East basement. UConn started five first- or second-year players last year on the only I-A defense to allow more than 50 points a game (50.4). Four of last year’s five starting offensive linemen return to protect sophomore quarterback Marvin Washington, an Orlando Dr. Phillips alumnus who likely replaces David Pindell. West Division 1. Houston (8-5, 5-3) Dana Holgorsen inherits an embarrassment of offensive riches, not to mention an embarrassment of a defense. Quarterback D’Eriq King, who led all of Division I-A with 50 touchdowns at the time of his torn right meniscus, returns. So do five of the top six wideouts and a loaded backfield led by Patrick Carr (868 rushing yards in 2018). The defense, however, allowed nearly 500 yards a game. 2. Memphis (8-6, 5-3) If new coordinator Adam Fuller can get the Tigers’ defensive issues rectified, this team can win its third consecutive division title. Four of the top five tacklers are back from a shaky unit (428.1 ypg) that blew double-digit leads in no fewer than four of its six losses. Offensively, quarterback Brady White remains surrounded by weapons including receiver Damonte Coxie (74 receptions) and 1,100-yard rusher Patrick Taylor. 3. Tulane (7-6, 5-3) Last year’s winning season, only the Green Wave’s sixth in the last 37 years, wasn’t an aberration. Look for Tulane to continue its upward trend behind new offensive coordinator Will Hall, who’s implementing a higher tempo. Tailbacks Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine, who teamed for nearly 2,000 rushing yards last season, are back. So is quarterback Justin McMillan (5-1 as a starter) and the entire defensive line. 4. SMU (5-7, 4-4) The division’s dark horse, and a bona fide bowl contender. Former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele, who threw for more than 4,600 yards in three up-and-down seasons in Austin, is Sonny Dykes’ new starter. His targets will include James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr., who combined for more than 2,000 receiving yards and 18 TDs in 2018. Three full-time starting offensive linemen return. So do five of the top eight tacklers. 5. Navy (3-10, 2-6) Only seven starters return from a 3-10 team that lost four games by a touchdown or less. Coach Ken Niumatalolo will attempt to restore his proud program behind senior quarterback Malcolm Perry, a 2,300-yard career rusher. There’s some promising depth at fullback, but it’s mostly unproven. Defensively, improvement must start on third down; Navy ranked 126th nationally in opponents’ third-down conversion rate (.485) in 2018. 6. Tulsa (3-9, 2-6) Veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young retired, but nine starters return from a unit that ranked eighth nationally in passing yards allowed (174.6). Offensively, three quarterbacks have left the program since the end of last season. Zach Smith, a 6-foot-3 Baylor transfer, appears to be the guy. At least he can hand off to Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II, who teamed for more than 1,800 yards in 2018. Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.