This year, the Cougars have been chosen to finish second in the West behind Memphis, which is precisely where I'd put them had I been asked to vote. But I'd also be wary of what this Houston team can do.
While there are some key losses to account for, Herman recruited well, and a lot of those recruits are juniors and seniors now. Furthermore, even with a new quarterback -- you may remember Kyle Allen from his days at Texas A&M -- the Cougars offense still has Duke Catalon at running back, and Catalon will be rushing behind one of the most experienced offensive lines in the AAC. Former five-star Ed Oliver still anchors the defense.