To no one's surprise, Louisville was picked to win the AAC in the preseason media poll.
The Cardinals, led by junior QB Teddy Bridgewater, received 28 of 30 first-place votes. Cincinnati, which received the other two first-place votes, was picked to finish second.
Louisville was 11-2 last season and returns the bulk of its team, including Bridgewater, considered the best of the draft-eligible quarterbacks by most analysts. The Cardinals also might add former Auburn 1,000-yard rusher Michael Dyer, who reportedly has narrowed his options to Louisville and USF.
The Cardinals' schedule is such that an unbeaten regular-season record would not be a surprise. The non-conference opponents are Ohio, Kentucky, FIU and FCS member Eastern Kentucky. The toughest conference matchup is a road game against Cincinnati to end the regular season.
The question is whether an unbeaten Louisville would hold enough sway with voters and in the computers to get to the BCS championship game. The likely answer is "no," especially if there are two unbeatens from any of the other "power" conferences. The league champ is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl.
Third in the AAC preseason poll was Rutgers, followed by UCF, USF, Houston, Connecticut, SMU, Temple and Memphis. Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF left Conference USA for the AAC; the other six schools are holdovers from the league formerly known as the Big East.