A small slate of games still resulted in some change. Navy went to a running back last week, and only threw one pass on their way to a thrilling 43-40 win. ECU gave Tulane a run for their money, but couldn’t pull through in overtime, and UCF routed UConn in typical fashion. Temple is one game away from bowl eligibility, which is something we didn’t think we would see after the first few games. The Power Rankings still have plenty of room for more change with the end of the season coming up!
1. UCF (9-0, LW: #1)
They didn’t cover the 38.5 point spread, but I’m not sure if anyone actually thought they would. A 25 point win was comfortable for the Knights, but now they need to avoid looking past a suddenly hot Temple team. USF awaits next week, but the Owls will give UCF plenty to think about before that happens.
2. Memphis (8-1, LW: #2)
A bye week for the Tigers gives them ample amount of time to prepare for SMU, who is just coming off of a loss to Navy. The Tigers need a win or a Houston loss to clinch the AAC West Division crown, and SMU won’t make it easy. Two offenses that can score will give the opposing defenses plenty of problems to solve.
3. USF (8-1, LW: #3)
Same with UCF, the Bulls can’t get caught looking past Tulsa. We’ve seen what Tulsa can do against an unsuspecting team earlier this year, and USF’s hopes of winning the conference are still intact. A loss to the Golden Hurricane would ruin those hopes altogether and, selfishly, we want the matchup with the Knights to be hyped.
4. Houston (6-3, LW: #4)
Yet another bye week for an AAC team, and it’s the Cougars this time. A two game stretch that features Tulane and Navy should test this team, but also give them a chance to finish the regular season strong. This stretch also could give us a preview of what we might see next year from this team.
5. Navy (6-3, LW: #6)
Malcom Perry competed for the starting quarterback job in the offseason, but Zach Abey eventually won that battle. With Abey out last week, Perry was called upon to run the offense. The result was a 33 carry, 282 yard and four touchdown performance. Navy got a huge win over SMU, and gained bowl eligibility by doing so. Who is playing quarterback will be the question all week after Perry went down late with an injury.
6. SMU (6-4, LW: #5)
SMU’s offense was sleep walking, and the defense didn’t have an answer for Navy’s triple option. Then, that all changed. The Mustangs offense was a completely different group in the second half, and for a while the defense was too. But the Midshipmen marched down the field with the score 40-40 to kick the game winning field goal as time expired.
7. Temple (5-5, LW: #7)
One. More. Win. Temple’s quest to become bowl eligible might have to wait a week, at least we’re pretty sure. We’ve seen weird things in this conference already and, while an upset is highly unlikely, it’s not out of the question to think Temple could pull off the stunner. We’ll just stick to logical thinking by assuming UCF will win, and expect Temple to get their sixth win next week.
8. Tulane (4-6, LW: #9)
The Green Wave almost lost to ECU, which caught our attention. A touchdown and a stop in overtime won the game, but this losing streak was almost extended. A bowl game seems unrealistic at this point, which is unfortunate considering how the season started. This is not a 4-8 team, but that’s probably what their record will be.
9. Cincinnati (3-7, LW: #8)
Temple took it to the Bearcats last week, but Cincinnati could do the same to ECU this week. The Pirates did just put a scare in Tulane, but this is definitely a winnable game. Cincinnati was eliminated from a bowl game, but Luke Fickell’s group should be able to finish 5-7.
10. UConn (3-7, LW: #10)
On a positive note, the Huskies covered the 38.5 point spread, and scored 24 points on UCF. The bad news is they still lost by 25, and had a few bad plays to go with it. Hosting Boston College will be a handful when they have to stop freshman A.J. Dillon, and they end the year by traveling to Cincinnati.
11. Tulsa (2-8, LW: #11)
Well, they pulled off one stunner already this year against Houston. And Houston beat USF (Tulsa’s opponent this week). Does that mean we’re in for another upset? Doubtful, but you never know with this Golden Hurricane team.
12. ECU (2-8, LW: #12)
So close, ECU. The Pirates had Tulane on the ropes, but couldn’t quite pull out a win in overtime. ECU’s running game came alive (at least compared to last week) to give the offense a more balanced look. Despite the loss, the offense appears to continuously improve, meaning they could give teams some issues.