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Three Things We Learned from Week Nine American Athletic Conference Football

Where we find different things to say about "business as usual"...

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

So I hate to say it, but I've now discovered that it can be challenging to find unique things to say about a conference and its teams when they so consistently show you things on a weekly basis that merely confirm what you already knew. So what did we actually learn this week?

1. Central Florida is not the worst team in the conference.


They're the worst team in all of FBS.

Both New Mexico State (in a wild one) and North Texas (in a less wild one) got off the snide this weekend, so now Central Florida and Kansas are the only remaining winless teams in the country. Odds are better that UCF will stay goose egg than Kansas.

In terms of pure yards per game, the worst offense UCF faces from here ranks 73rd nationally (USF), while they themselves are 110th on defense. Tulsa is the lone team that is lower than 80th on defense (they rank 123rd!) but that is largely a byproduct of having played three of their eight games against three of the eight offenses more prolific than their own.

UCF, meanwhile, is 128th in total yards per game. This is likely due to an anemic rushing game; the only team with fewer total rushing yards on the season is Georgia State who a) has over 700 more passing yards and b) has played two fewer games.

Kansas, on the other hand, gets to spend this Saturday playing a Texas team that just crapped the bed against Iowa State. They also get to end the season against a Kansas State team that is slowly unraveling, having not won a game since September 19th(!) and having scored two touchdowns and two field goals in their last 10 quarters of football.

Who do you think is more likely to eke out a win?

2. Temple isn't undefeated, but they'll probably win the conference

Did you see this game? I understand that the Owls have had their blips, needing a late surge to beat both UCF and UMass, as well as holding off a late pseudo-charge from Cincinnati. But they made Notre Dame look absolutely stupid on repeated occasions, and the Irish are easily the best team the Owls will face all season.

Given that point, Memphis is the only team left on their schedule who looks remotely frightening. Even if they lose that game, they would still have to lose two out of three against the combination of SMU, USF, and UConn AND then have either Cinci or ECU win out to miss out on the inaugural AAC Championship.

Barring that scenario, they go to the title game and either rematch against Memphis (good luck beating Temple once, let alone twice) or Houston (not necessarily better or worse than Memphis). I can say this because they have, by a notable margin, the best defense in the conference. They're statistically neck-and-neck with Houston but have played a tougher schedule.

That said...

3. Navy are methodical bastards, so don't sleep on them just yet.

Once again, the Midshipmen started off slow and just pounded their way to another convincing victory. This was the second week in a row where Navy didn't take the lead for good until well into the second half, but I'm not entirely sure that either of these games was ever really in doubt.

Between a strong run game (led by Keenan Reynolds, whose next touchdown will set a new FBS record for career touchdowns scored), and a stout defense, Navy is very good at just wearing you down. This week they will face Memphis, the best team they've played not named Notre Dame, so we'll find out just how serious a contender the Middies are this week.

BONUS: This two quarterback thing isn't working at ECU.

Their win against Virginia Tech was a tale of two quarterbacks and two halves. Blake Kemp was efficient (9-for-12 for 118 yards) but lacked pop, and was replaced by James Summers, who romped for 169 rushing yards and two scores while passing for another and posting a similar line (5-for-8 for 110 yards).

Since then, it has been downhill. Teams have figured out how to contain Summers' rushing attack, as he has only gained 230 yards on 50 carries in five games since. Against BYU and Temple, Kemp was 59-for-84 for 643 yards, three touchdowns, and two INTs, while Summers was an afterthought (4-for-10 for 25 yards, plus 84 rushing yards total). Against Tulsa and UConn (two much lesser teams by most metrics), the two of them combined to go 38-for-60 for 342 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions.

That is a whole lot of offensive roller coaster. Two weeks ago the Pirates were a late-game BYU drive away from being 5-2, and now they are 4-5 and no lock for a bowl since they have yet to face USF or Cinci. They need to stick with Kemp; this UConn game was his worst by a very wide margin, as opposed to Summers who is likely more of a Wildcat option that something regular and reliable.