The list of contenders shrunk this weekend, with four teams still in the running. Cincinnati reminded everyone that they’re top dog, and found out that their offense can contribute to their wins as well. Can anyone catch them? They’re the only undefeated team, but they’re not unbeatable and have the toughest part of their schedule remaining.
1. Cincinnati (5-0)
The Bearcats made a statement in their 49-10 win over Memphis on Saturday. The defense was stifling, and Desmond Ridder showcased his arm talent. Not many teams can outgain the Tigers, but Cincinnati found a way to dominate in that area, outgaining Memphis by nearly 200 yards. Ridder’s contributions were especially huge, as the passing game remains their biggest obstacle. If the offense keeps this up, competing in the College Football Playoff is a realistic possibility.
2. SMU (6-1)
After a tough week against Cincinnati, the Mustangs bounced back against Navy. At least, the offense did. Up 51-17 early in the fourth quarter, SMU allowed three more scores by Navy to end with a score of 51-37. It never felt like the game was in question, but rather a reminder that the offense is the only thing keeping SMU in the running for a conference championship.
3. Tulsa (3-1)
The Golden Hurricane overcame a first half deficit, and won in controversial fashion. We knew eventually they’d have a rough game, but I don’t think many expected it to be against ECU. After surviving this one, it’s back to the drawing board to figure out how to avoid another tough game.
4. Memphis (3-2)
We knew that the Tigers defense wasn’t good, but making Cincinnati’s offense look dominant put them at a new low. Brady White threw for 316 yards and a touchdown, but the Tigers rushed a total of three yards against the Bearcats. Rodrigues Clark was the Tigers leading rusher with 16 yards.
5. UCF (4-2)
The Knights kept their title hopes alive with a 44-21 win over Houston Saturday, led by Dillon Gabriel’s 328 yards passing. The Knights offense wasn’t overly dominant in the first half, but picked up the pace after halftime to pull away from the Cougars. UCF’s defense was without four starters, but made life miserable for Clayton Tune despite those absences.
6. Houston (2-2)
It’s not time to jump ship, but rather a rough game. Every team has one, and it just happened to be Houston’s game. Clayton Tune wasn’t at his best on Saturday, and a couple of poor decisions resulted in two interceptions. UCF’s defense wasn’t exactly elite, to the offensive struggles weren’t promising. Marquez Stevenson was injured early in the first quarter and never returned, and his status going forward remains uncertain.
7. Navy (3-4)
It’s official: the Midshipmen are officially a pass-first team. Navy passed for 239 yards and rushed for 191 in their 51-37 loss to SMU. It’s tough for this team to keep up with high scoring teams, which they found out the hard way, but it doesn’t help when the tackling looks like this.
Navy's defense is an absolute catastrophe. pic.twitter.com/qaeEcOYmxS— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) November 1, 2020
8. Tulane (3-4)
Deuce Watts led the Green Wave with 114 yards and two touchdowns receiving in a shocking win over Temple. Tulane dominated from start to finish, winning 38-3 this weekend. The offense, a group that didn’t look great to start the season, seems to have found its groove, and a few more upsets could be in store if they keep this up.
9. Temple (1-3)
Anthony Russo’s absence proved to be extremely costly for the Owls this weekend in their loss to Tulane. Temple only managed to throw for 145 yards with Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell, and the defense couldn’t keep Tulane in check. It’s been a disappointing year so far for this team, especially with the offensive potential they possess.
10. USF (1-5)
No game for the Bulls this week, but they have a chance to jump on a Memphis team that could still be hungover from this weekend’s loss to Cincinnati.
11. ECU (1-4)
The Pirates might have felt like they were cheated out of a win, which could be their motivation going forward. Holton Ahlers threw for 330 yards in his first good game of the season. Is this a sign that he’s about to go off? If it was last year, the answer would be yes, so stay tuned to his production in the next couple weeks.