We have a new leader, and it’s well deserved after last week. Our former top team dropped five spots, which we’re not huge fans of, but that’s how things shake out right now. Nothing changed with the bottom six teams, but it appears that there is a significant gap between the top and bottom halves of the conference at this point.
1. UCF (3-0, LW: #3)
The Knights dominated their G5 Game of the Week with Memphis, 40-13. Rumors of Scott Frost leaving after this year only get stronger with each win, but that’s also not a guarantee. The defense was the story of the game, holding Memphis’ offense in check for most of the game while their own offense torched the Tigers defense.
2. USF (5-0, LW: #2)
It’s about time. USF may have found the breakthrough they were looking for. After a month of struggling to start fast, the Bulls exploded against ECU, and never looked back even when the Pirates kept answering each score. USF’s defense also shut down the Pirates offense in the second half. If both sides of the ball have figured things out, this conference could be in big trouble.
3. Houston (3-1, LW: #3)
Yes, the win was ugly, but it was a win. Houston lost star Ed Oliver in the process as well, but the defense held up well despite the loss. The surprise was seeing Kyle Postma at quarterback and not seeing Kyle Allen take a snap. Houston’s offense has the potential to be one of the best, but the signal caller remains a big question. So does the offensive line, but that gets ignored because of the quarterback controversy.
4. SMU (3-1, LW: #5)
Beating UConn doesn’t allow the Mustangs to jump too high, but the offensive explosion continues. Ben Hicks is making a case for Offensive Player of the Year for the conference, and he has a plethora of talent around him. Receiver Courtland Sutton finally had a breakout game after two weeks in which he accumulated just 32 yards. Luckily for Sutton, his fellow receivers and running backs have stepped up in a big way.
5. Navy (4-0, LW: #6)
Why aren’t the Midshipmen higher? While the Midshipmen might be 3-0 in the conference, they’ve beaten Tulane, Cincinnati, and Tulsa. Throw in their nonconference win over FAU, and Navy hasn’t looked impressive quite yet. That will change in the next three weeks. The Midshipmen have Air Force, Memphis and UCF next and we will find out their identity (and rank in the conference) soon enough.
6. Memphis (3-1, LW: #1)
While it was a rough night for the Tigers, this is still a good team. Injuries have played a significant role in the defensive struggles, and they ultimately got burned by another good offense. That wouldn’t be a problem unless the offense struggled as well, and it did Saturday night. One bad game isn’t reason to abandon ship, and fans need to remember this is the same team that beat UCLA just two weeks prior.
7. Tulane (2-2, LW: #7)
The Green Wave were off this past week, and resume conference play with Tulsa Saturday.
8. Cincinnati (2-3, LW: #8)
After a few weeks of hanging tough, the Bearcats finally lost control of a game. Marshall was up 24-0 at halftime, and it was too late when Cincinnati woke up. Luckily, this has zero implications on their status in the conference, but the rest of their games will. UCF, USF, and SMU await next, so the defense will need to get back to playing tough in order to avoid nasty blowouts.
9. Tulsa (1-4, LW: #9)
This isn’t the record that we expected Tulsa to have through five games, and things won’t get any better going forward. Head coach Philip Montgomery needs to find a solution for a defense that is the the second worst in the nation. They won’t win many games if they can’t stop anyone.
10. Temple (1-4, LW: #10)
The Owls defense did all they could to keep the game in hand, but the offense couldn’t capitalize. Like Tulsa, we’re surprised to see Temple this low at this point. Losing multiple key starters is taking its toll on this team and, so far, Geoff Collins hasn’t found a solution quite yet. We expected the Owls to take a step back, just not this far.
11. ECU (1-4, LW: #11)
Had USF started slow once again, the Pirates might have pulled off the biggest upset in the conference. Only problem is ECU’s nation’s worst defense couldn’t slow down the Bulls at all. Thomas Sirk appears to be the answer at quarterback, and had another good game finding receiver Davon Grayson. It looks like ECU could move up in these rankings as long as the offense keeps up this production and the defense makes any sort of improvement.
12. UConn (1-3, LW: #12)
A negative trend is beginning to show it’s ugly head in this conference: bad defense. The AAC has four of the five worst defenses in the country, and UConn holds the four worst position. That doesn’t bode well when facing the 16th best offense in SMU. The Mustangs scored at will against the Huskies defense, and UConn’s offense wasn’t explosive enough to keep up.