|American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game|
|Conference Football Championship|
Logo of the Championship Game
|Most championships||UCF (2)|
|Official website||Official site|
|Best conference team's home field (2015–present)|
The American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game is a college football game currently held by the American Athletic Conference (The American) each year to determine the conference's season champion. The inaugural game was held on December 5, 2015, at 12:00 pm ET.
The game previously pit the champion of the Eastern Division (UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, South Florida, and Temple) against the champion of the Western Division (Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa). The game will be played at the home stadium of the division winner with the better conference record.
However, UConn left the conference in 2020, leading to the dissolution of the divisions. Because of the new NCAA rules regarding conference championships, the 2020 edition is slated to be held between the top two teams in the conference.
The American was reorganized following the tumultuous period of realignment that hobbled the Big East between 2010 and 2013. In all, 14 member schools announced their departure for other conferences, and 15 other schools announced plans to join the conference (eight as all-sports members, and four for football only). In December 2012, the Big East's seven remaining non-FBS schools, all Catholic institutions — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, and Villanova – announced that they voted unanimously to leave the conference.
After a settlement in 2013 between the non-FBS schools and the FBS schools regarding the use of the conference name, the ten remaining football playing members renamed themselves the American Athletic Conference. In 2014, Louisville and Rutgers departed the conference and joined the ACC and Big Ten, respectively. Their departure was succeeded on the same day by the entrance of East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa for all sports. In 2015, the U.S. Naval Academy joined the conference for football, bringing the membership total in that sport to twelve teams. At the time, the conference split into two six-team divisions and created a conference championship game.
On July 1, 2020 UConn officially left the American, with its football team becoming an FBS independent once the school joined the Big East. The American has no immediate plan to add another team to rebalance division, so divisions have been eliminated from the conference for the time being. The championship game will now be played by the two teams that achieved the best record in regular season conference play.
Pre-championship game era
The 2013 and 2014 American Athletic Conference football champions were determined by the team(s) with the best conference record, and there was no championship game held. In years when two or more teams tied in conference record, co-champions were declared.
Championship Game results
Below are the results from all AAC Football Championship Games played. The winning team appears in bold font, on a background of their primary team color. Rankings are from the AP Poll released prior to the game.
|Date||West Division||East Division||Site||Attendance||MVP|
|December 5, 2015||#17 Houston Cougars||24||#20 Temple Owls||13||TDECU Stadium • Houston, Texas||35,721||QB Greg Ward, Houston|
|December 3, 2016||#20 Navy Midshipmen||10||Temple Owls||34||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium • Annapolis, Maryland||22,815||QB P. J. Walker, Temple|
|December 2, 2017||#16 Memphis Tigers||55||#12 UCF Knights||622OT||Spectrum Stadium • Orlando, Florida||41,433||QB McKenzie Milton, UCF|
|December 1, 2018||Memphis Tigers||41||#8 UCF Knights||56||45,176||QB Darriel Mack Jr., UCF|
|December 7, 2019||#16 Memphis Tigers||29||#21 Cincinnati Bearcats||24||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium • Memphis, Tennessee||33,008||WR Antonio Gibson, Memphis|
|Date||#1 Seed||#2 Seed||Site||Attendance||MVP|
|December 19, 2020||#6 Cincinnati Bearcats||27||#20 Tulsa Golden Hurricane||24||Nippert Stadium • Cincinnati, Ohio||5,831||QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati|
Results by team
|Appearances||School||Wins||Losses||Pct.||Year(s) Won||Year(s) Lost|
|3||Memphis Tigers||1||2||.333||2019||2017, 2018|
|2||UCF Knights||2||0||1.000||2017, 2018|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||0||1||.000||2020|
- East Carolina, USF, SMU, and Tulane have yet to make an appearance in an AAC Football Championship Game.
- UConn transferred to independent status following the 2019 season without ever making an appearance.
Division standings are based on each team's overall conference record. In the event that two teams are tied, head-to head competition would break the tie. If the two teams did not play, division record will be used to determine the divisional champion. If three or more teams are tied, the following tiebreakers are used to determine the divisional champion:
- The following procedures will only be used to eliminate all but two teams, at which point the two-team tie-breaking procedure (head-to-head result) will be applied.
- Head-to-head (best record in games among the tied teams).
- Record in games played within the division.
- Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on record in all Conference games, both divisional and non-divisional).
- Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on record in divisional games).
- Record against common non-divisional opponents.
- Best overall winning percentage in all games.
- Highest CFP ranking following the last weekend of regular-season games.
- Coin toss.
The site of the Championship Game is the home stadium of the division champion with the best overall conference record. In the event that the two division champions are tied, then the head-to-head record shall be used as the tiebreaker. If the two teams did not play, the following procedure is used to determine the host:
- College Football Playoff ranking, under the following conditions:
- If only one division champion is ranked entering the final week of conference play, it will host if it wins in that week. If that team loses, a composite of four computer rankings is used to determine the host.
- If both division champions are ranked, the higher-ranked team that won in the final week will host. If, in this scenario, neither wins in the final week, the same computer ranking system is used.
- If neither division champion is ranked, the aforementioned computer rankings are used.
- If neither CFP nor computer rankings determine a host, the teams' records against common conference opponents are used.
- If still tied, overall record determines the host.
- Finally, a coin toss is held at the conference offices.
- "The American Championship Central". American Athletic Conference. June 4, 2015.
- "American Announces Football Schedule Format for 2015-18". USA Today. December 18, 2012.
- Wolken, Dan (May 29, 2013). "American Athletic Conference unveils its primary logos". USA Today.
Beyond the challenge of avoiding something that looked corporate, the league also couldn't build the logo around an acronym. From the very beginning, the conference office has been adamant that it wants to be known as The American instead of the AAC to avoid confusion with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
- "At a glance: Latest wave of conference realignment". USA Today. June 29, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Borzello, Jeff (July 26, 2019). "UConn leaving AAC in '20, will owe $17M exit fee". ESPN. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- "Football Bylaw 5.2 – Championship Host Determination" (PDF). American Athletic Conference Constitution. American Athletic Conference. October 30, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016.