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AAC Power Rankings Through Week 6

Ranking all eleven AAC teams through Week 6 of the 2021 season.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The great thing about power rankings is that they’re not just the conference standings. Anyone can look up conference standings and say, this team is better than them because of something like “head to head matchups” and “winning percentages.” It takes a real maniac to insist that a one win team is actually good.

I feel like I’m ready to be that maniac. The truth is that someone is always going to be ahead of someone who they lost to. Everyone’s situation is different, and it can be difficult to balance not being a prisoner of the moment with making sure that trending results matter.

After the top three AAC teams, things start to get murky. So, let’s dive into some AAC Power Rankings through Week 6:

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

1. Cincinnati (Cincinnati 5-0, 1-0)

Cincinnati completed the first step needed to make the College Football Playoff. They won at Notre Dame and Indiana. Now, they need to run the table in conference play. Beating Temple like a rented mule is a good start to that. Next up is an injury-riddled UCF at Nippert. That should be a win too.

2. SMU (6-0, 2-0)

Breathe SMU, you survived Navy. The Mustangs are an incredibly talented offensive team, and Sonny Dykes is a great coach for this program, but they’re not without fault. The offensive turnovers are going to bite them at some point, while the defense allows way too many big plays. Still, this is a legit top-25 team who deserves a ton of credit.

NCAA Football: Houston at Tulane Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

3. Houston (5-1, 3-0)

Is Dana doing something this year at Houston? It kind of seems like he is because while I don’t trust the Cougars just yet, they’re doing everything in their power to show that they’re for real this season. The defense, in particular, has been impressive. Their athletes are showing up and showing out. It’s been a lot of fun to watch at the very least.

4. UCF (3-2, 1-1)

It’s hard to judge a team that has been decimated by injuries the way UCF has been. Their All-AAC quarterback, top two running backs, top wide receiver, multiple linemen on both sides of the ball, and various starting linebackers have all been hurt this season. Both of UCF’s road losses probably should’ve been wins too, with a tipped ball and blown fourth quarter lead putting the Knights behind the 8-ball.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

5. ECU (3-3, 1-1)

It might be time to ask ourselves the age old question, “Is ECU back?” After all, if it wasn’t for two last second, heartbreaking losses to South Carolina and UCF, then the Pirates would be 5-1. Their defense is worlds better, and Holton Ahlers and the offense are starting to play more consistently. No points docked for a loss at the Bounce House.

6. Tulane (1-5, 0-2)

The Green Wave probably doesn’t deserve to be this high. Maybe I’m stuck on a blend of preseason expectations and their close loss to Oklahoma. Maybe New Orleans is just the best AAC city. It’s hard to say. Either way, this is a team that’s been through a ton of challenges this season. They’ve played a difficult schedule, and now they need to bounce back and show some more fight.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

7. Navy (1-4, 1-2)

Navy’s first three games were an absolute disaster, on and off the field. Their offense, in particular, was stuck in the mud. Since then, they’ve started to figure things out on offense, with new quarterback Tai Lavatai running that triple option with confidence and decisiveness. In turn, that’s helped the defense to work, as in back to back weeks they’ve beaten UCF and held Memphis to their lowest offensive scoring day on the season.

8. Memphis (3-3, 0-2)

Is it better to blow a three score lead or never have a three score lead at all? Memphis looked to answer the question against Tulsa, and managed to lose their third game in a row. Losing to unbeaten UTSA is one thing, but Temple and Tulsa were supposed to be a couple of fairly easy conference wins. They weren’t and now you have to wonder how bad things could get for the Tigers.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

9. Tulsa (2-4, 1-1)

Last week, I was probably a little harsh with Tulsa. They had just been blown out by Houston and their only win was against a bad Arkansas State team. And yes, I did watch them just beat Memphis, but these aren’t conference standings, they’re power rankings. The thing is, I know Tulsa can flash talented players, but they haven’t done it consistently and the body of work as a whole just isn’t there.

10. Temple (3-3, 1-1)

In a way, Temple’s three wins are deceptive. Wagner is an 0-6 FCS team who just lost 56-7 to Fordham. Akron is a bottom of the barrel MAC program. Memphis, it seems, is in a complete spiral. On the other hand, no one expected Temple to beat Rutgers, Boston College, or Cincinnati. Halfway through the season there really haven’t been any surprises for this young and growing roster.

11. USF (1-4, 0-1)

I’ll be honest, I feel bad putting USF here, especially after a bye week. It’s just that the other teams at the bottom of the AAC have shown some growth in the past couple of weeks, winning games in conference. The Bulls simply haven’t. There have been a few improvements here, though, and it looks like USF has their quarterback of the future.