Is the AAC a three team race? Right now, it appears that might be the case. UCF, USF and Memphis have so far distanced themselves from the rest of the conference, but we know that there is plenty of season remaining. Four tiers have emerged within the conference, but there’s plenty of time for any team to change between tiers quickly. With half of the season still remaining, the AAC race should be intriguing to say the least.
1. UCF (5-0, LW: #1)
The Knights continue on their tear, dismantling ECU 63-21. Up next is Navy and, while the Midshipmen struggled mightily against Memphis, the triple option will garner all of UCF’s attention. It’s also a road game, which will make things a little tougher for the Knights. UCF will be the better team heading in but, as we found out this past week, that doesn’t always guarantee a win.
2. USF (6-0, LW: #2)
A 20-point second quarter helped the Bulls pull away from Cincinnati on Saturday. We are now at the tough stretch on the schedule for USF, and their next game will be difficult. Their defense will have to stop Tulane’s triple option attack, and another slow start could doom them.
3. Memphis (5-1, LW: #5)
The only person that could stop Riley Ferguson was Ferguson himself. Memphis’ star quarterback had a few throws that he missed by inches which would have led to touchdowns, but he corrected those mistakes in the second half. The Tigers handed Navy their first loss of the season, and they control their own destiny for an AAC West title. Up next: a Thursday night trip to Houston.
4. Navy (5-1 (LW: #4)
To say that Navy didn’t look good was an understatement. However, the fact that they committed five turnovers and were still in the game says a lot about their resiliency. They can’t replicate that performance this week, as UCF will blow them out of the water if they duplicate those turnovers.
5. Houston (4-2, LW: #3)
Frankly, no one saw this loss coming. Houston wasn’t showing signs of being an elite team, but Tulsa wasn’t even showing signs of being a good team. Turnovers and a struggling offense dug the grave for Houston on Saturday, and a 45-17 loss was an embarrassment for the program. A great way to rebound would be to stun the Memphis Tigers on a short week. If we recall correctly, the last Thursday night game that Houston hosted seemed to go well.
6. SMU (4-2, LW: #6)
The Mustangs were off last week, and head to Cincinnati to take on a struggling Bearcats team. SMU’s offense should take care of business, and their defense should be able to take advantage of an inconsistent opposing offense. If this team is going to make a run at the West in the second half of the season, the defense needs to step up in a big way.
7. Tulane (3-3, LW: #7)
Losing to FIU certainly wasn’t great, but give the Golden Panthers credit. They’re now 4-2 and aren’t the same team that faced UCF at the beginning of the season. Tulane’s back to the drawing board, and have a chance to prove themselves against a top team in the conference. Hosting USF gives the Green Wave a chance to make a statement, and their unique attack might give the Bulls fits.
8. Tulsa (2-5, LW: #10)
We’ve pointed out their shortcomings defensively for a while, and that must have sparked a fire on that side of the ball Saturday. Ok, we won’t take credit, but Tulsa was a different defensive team against Houston. Three turnovers led to 21 points as the Golden Hurricane avenged last year’s disappointing loss to the Cougars.
9. Cincinnati (2-5, LW: #8)
With the game tied after the first quarter, the Bearcats couldn’t do anything else. USF responded with 30 unanswered points, including 20 in the second quarter to put Cincinnati away. Hayden Moore was replaced for Ross Trail, and it might be the end of Moore’s time at quarterback. USF limited Cincinnati to just 95 yards rushing, and the offense is headed in the wrong direction.
10. Temple (3-4, LW: #10)
Logan Marchi threw for 356 yards, but it wasn’t enough to beat UConn. Temple’s fall from the top of the conference continues, and it’s been concerning all year. We didn’t expect them to be anywhere near these last two teams.
11. UConn (2-5, LW: #12)
The Huskies were outgained by over 200 yards, allowed the aforementioned Marchi to have a career day, and still managed to win by four. We’re still not entirely sure how, but the Huskies picked up their second win of the season and moved out of the cellar.
12. ECU (1-6, LW: #11)
Had the UConn game not been rescheduled, the Pirates would be winless at this point. They now face another one win team in BYU, but the Cougars struggles have more to do with a tough schedule. Their six losses came at the hands of LSU, Utah, Wisconsin, Utah State, Boise State, and Mississippi State. ECU could be in trouble, but we don’t know how confident BYU will be coming in with the same record either.