Rutgers football picked to finish third in AACScarlet Knights' first and last season in new conference
The Scarlet Knights have been tabbed to finish third in their first (and last) season in the new American Athletic Conference, according to an AP conference preview released Tuesday.
Louisville, who won the final Big East championship in 2012 and will bolt for the Big 12 after this season, was chosen to "defend" its crown and earn what will be the AAC's only berth in the BCS, with newcomer Central Florida tabbed to finish second and Rutgers, who will join the Big Ten in 2014, penciled in third.
"Our conference features legitimate football national championship contenders," AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "Our BCS representative this year will be a strong team. And I would remind people we remain a BCS conference this fall."
UCF is one of four ex-Conference USA squads joining the six holdovers from the Big East for the inaugural season of AAC football; the conference will add three more C-USA refugees - Tulsa, Tulane, and East Carolina--when Rutgers and Louisville depart, and Navy will join as an associate football-only member in 2015 to bring the conference to 12 teams.
The Pinstripe Bowl has the fourth choice of American Athletic Conference teams for the 2013 bowl season, so a third-place finish for Rutgers could bring them one last "home" game on Dec. 28 in their AAC swan song.
The AP's full predicted order of finish: Louisville, Central Florida, Rutgers, Houston, Cincinnati, South Florida, Connecticut, Southern Methodist, Memphis, Temple.