The American Athletic Conference has struggled in bowl games since the conference’s inception. The AAC’s record of 8-17, with losses to other G5 and lower tier P5 teams has no made a great impression for the P6 movement. Sure, there have been some great wins like UCF in 2013 and Houston in 2015 (as far as the major bowl games go), but the conference has never done great all at once. This is the year that they can turn it around and potentially flip that record to 14-17. This is not an easy feat, but if they were able to go 5-1 or 6-0, the conference would get enormous respect.
Fresno State vs. Houston
The biggest thing Houston proves in winning this game is showing how far ahead the AAC is over the Mountain West. Fresno State is arguably their best team and Houston is the 4th best team in the AAC. If Houston were to win this game, it would be devastating for the Mountain West. The number one team in a G5 conference needs to be able to beat anyone in the G5 conferences. This may not be the case in a really low-scoring affair.
This also proves that Houston is not out of the race for next year’s AAC bid. Houston has all the tools to keep on running with Ed Oliver returning for one more year, and D’Eriq King giving some stability at quarterback. This team will return plenty of starters, and puts the Cougars in great shape to win their division after Memphis will lose Riley Ferguson.
The last big thing it proves is Major Applewhite being the right fit. Many were skeptical of the Applewhite hiring last year, but he has given the Cougars a nice season. They were able to get an upset win over USF and got a solid bowl game in paradise. Applewhite will have proven himself very capable with a good bowl win.