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AAC Power Rankings after Week 9

Temple woke up UCF’s offense, and it’s a tight race at the top already.

Central Florida v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

ESPN’s College GameDay almost didn’t come to Memphis this week. The Tigers needed a last second field goal to miss for them to remain with one loss. Luckily, the kick sailed wide left, preserving the opportunity to host the show. Their opponent this week found trouble of their own, but also held on to avoid an upset. The AAC’s biggest game of the season is in Tennessee in Week 10, and there’s some clarity in the rankings for the first time this season.

1. SMU

Houston hit SMU in the mouth last Thursday, but the Mustangs never waivered. Despite being outgained 510-367, SMU found a way to win on a night when they looked flat and played most of the game without Reggie Roberson. Xavier Jones rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns to make up for a struggling passing game. Were they looking ahead to Memphis? Maybe, but the Mustangs are still undefeated, making this week’s matchup more enticing.

2. Cincinnati

If the Bearcats lose in the next three games, it will be a surprise. ECU, UConn, and USF are playing bad football right now, and none of them appear ready to pull off a big upset. Cincinnati still remains at the top of the AAC East, with an extra cushion now that UCF beat Temple.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Tulsa
White and Gainwell continue to lead the Tigers offense, and came up big late against Tulsa.
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

3. Memphis

It wasn’t pretty, but the Tigers found a way to beat Tulsa, 42-41. Kenneth Gainwell had another great game, rushing for 149 yards and three touchdowns, and Brady White made a couple clutch throws to lead Memphis. Tulsa scored 41 points against the Tigers, and they can’t afford to struggle that much against SMU this week.

4. UCF

Temple was keeping it close with the Knights until the UCF offense rediscovered its explosiveness. UCF scored 63 points on the Owls, 35 of them being unanswered. Otis Anderson reminded fans why he’s such a dangerous threat for this offense. His 205 yards rushing were a game high, and the Knights ran for 385. They still need help to return to the AAC Championship Game, but they gave themselves a chance.

5. Navy

This won’t be the biggest stunner of the season, but it’s still surprising. The Midshipmen used a last second field goal to beat Tulane in a game they were favored to win, but was still an eye opener. Any concerns about the Midshipmen after last year are completely gone, and we now consider them a serious contender for the conference championship.

6. Temple

It’s almost like we were betrayed by the Owls. Their upset win over Memphis gave us hope that they were a contender for the AAC East crown. Now, were questioning if the Tigers are legit. Temple’s not technically eliminated from the East title race, but they haven’t done themselves any favors.

7. Tulane

Just like that the Green Wave falls to 5-3. A season that started with AAC West title aspirations has turned into concern. A comeback from down 24-0 fell short, and the road only gets tougher from here. Tulsa’s next, but Temple, UCF and SMU follow.

8. Houston

In case you forgot, Marquez Stevenson is really good at football. The junior had 211 yards against SMU as a part of Houston’s 510 yards of offense against the Mustangs. Houston fell short in their upset bid, but this team continues to take positive strides. Clayton Tune also had his best game as a Houston Cougar, but also had a costly turnover.

Cronkrite’s a bright spot on an offense that’s struggling.
Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

9. USF

The Bulls can’t fall lower than 10th from now on since they’ve won games over both ECU and UConn. USF’s offense showed its explosive side, and jumped on the Pirates for 35 first half points.

10. Tulsa

Phillip Montgomery’s lost 27 football games in his tenure as Tulsa head coach, and 13 have come by single digits. None of them was more agonizing than Saturday’s heartbreak. A missed chip shot field goal went wide left, and the Golden Hurricane came up short against Memphis.

11. ECU

ECU’s a bad team trying to figure things out, and it might not be until next year before they actually do. Teams are jumping out to early leads against the Pirates, and ECU’s trying to make comebacks seemingly every week.

12. UConn

Kevin Mensah had a monster game to give the Huskies their second win of the season. His five rushing touchdowns were a career high. We don’t normally praise the Huskies, but Mensah’s performance was too good to ignore.