One of the funniest things about the 2020 college football season is the difference in number of games played between teams. Teams like SMU have played eight games, while Tulsa’s played four. How will that impact the race for the two conference title spots? For the contenders, it won’t since most of them either played or will play each other. Tulsa and SMU are scheduled to play this weekend, which will either clear things up or make things worse. Memphis and UCF are on the outside looking in, but it’s clear that Cincinnati belongs in the championship.
1. Cincinnati (6-0)
The only thing stopping the Bearcats is themselves at this point, and Houston’s lucky they didn’t lose by more in the 38-10 Cincinnati win. Desmond Ridder looked confident throwing the football, and the defense did its thing for yet another week. They just have to avoid looking past ECU this week towards their colossal matchup against UCF in two weeks.
2. SMU (7-1)
Temple kept things close through three quarters, but they had no answer for SMU’s offense in the fourth. The Mustangs outscored the Owls 27-7 in the final quarter to come away with the 47-23 win. Shane Buechele passed for 355 yards to keep the Mustangs in contention for the chance to (at least right now) play Cincinnati in the AAC Championship Game.
3. Tulsa (3-1)
It’s weird to see Tulsa this high heading into Week 11, mostly because we were so used to seeing them much farther down the list for the past few years. The Golden Hurricane got a week to reset after nearly losing to ECU two weeks ago, and it’s probably good that the game against Navy didn’t happen. Nearly losing to one of the worst teams in the conference followed by facing a triple option offense felt like a recipe for disaster. Tulsa remains unbeaten in conference play, and the biggest matchup of their season comes this weekend when they host SMU.
4. Memphis (4-2)
I told you last week that Memphis might have a hangover game against USF, and that came true. The Tigers were sleep walking through the first half against the Bulls, and Brady White woke his team up to save what would have been an embarrassing loss. White threw for 437 yards, and led two huge scoring drives in the final four minutes to put Memphis ahead late. While they have an outside chance of returning to the conference championship, they need a lot of help.
5. UCF (4-2)
The Knights are averaging 48 points per game in their last three contests, and it feels like that average will increase this week. Dillon Gabriel is destroying every defense in his way, and his favorite target, Marlon Williams, is a nightmare to cover. Are the Knights getting hot? It seems like they’re heating up at the right time, and in two weeks that will be extremely important.
6. Houston (2-3)
Some fans are already asking if Dana Holgorsen’s worth his contract. After two years. Actually, a year and a half. I always remind people that patience is the key, and it’s not like Houston’s moving on from Holgorsen anytime soon. Especially not early in an abbreviated season and early in his second season. Houston’s got some nice pieces on the roster, and fans need to shift their attention towards next year or the year after instead of focusing on the current frustrations.
7. Tulane (4-4)
Michael Pratt and Deuce Watts continue their connection, one that’s leading Tulane in the right direction. Now that Pratt’s had time to get settled in and see game action, the Green Wave offense has been more consistent. On the other side, Patrick Johnson tied the school record for career sacks and currently leads all players in college football for sacks this season.
8. Navy (3-4)
Navy didn’t have to face Tulsa, which could have gotten ugly if the rushing attack couldn’t get going, but they’ll get to face a less stifling defense this week. Memphis can score points, but they haven’t proven that they can stop anyone consistently. Maybe Dalen Morris will go off as a passer? It seems weird to think, but Navy’s been thriving more through the air at times this season.
9. Temple (1-4)
It might be a long night for the Owls when they face UCF this weekend. Last year, Temple had a decent passing attack and a defense that could compete with most, and they still got stomped 63-21. Whether it’s been Anthony Russo, Trad Beatty or Re-al Mitchell, the Owls haven’t been able to move the ball consistently through the air this year, and the defense hasn’t exactly matched its play form the last few years.
10. USF (1-6)
Is this weekend’s performance an indication of the future? Not the choking part, the competing with a conference contender part. USF had Memphis right where they wanted them, but imploded in the last four minutes of the game for a 34-33 loss. I’m not surprised that the Bulls nearly shocked the Tigers, as I indicated in last week’s article, but it was tough to watch them end the game the way they did.
11. ECU (1-5)
Yes, ECU thumped USF, but this team continues to disappoint. Am I being petty by keeping the Pirates here? Probably, and I’m sorry, but I feel betrayed by my preseason excitement. At least Holton Ahlers continued his solid play, throwing for his second consecutive 300-yard game. The defense continues to be a problem, something Mike Houston must address this offseason.