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AAC Power Rankings Through Week 7

It’s Cincinnati. It’s a step down. It’s SMU. It’s another step down. It’s Houston. It’s a cliff. Then everybody else.

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

It was a light week of games in the AAC, with only about half the conference playing at all. Memphis proved to have too much explosiveness for Navy to keep up with. Cincinnati absolutely dominated UCF. Tulsa came from behind to beat USF. All in all, it was a fun week, but not a surprising one.

That means there shouldn’t be too much of a shakeup in the rankings. It’s hard to punish or reward a team too much for a bye. It’s also hard to punish or reward a team too much for doing more or less what was expected of them during the game. Feel free to debate that, though.

So, here are the AAC power rankings through Week 7:

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

1. Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0)

Cincinnati is the second-best team in the entire country, and there’s really not much debate about it. The debate that does exist comes from Power Five gatekeepers and other people who would excuse Oklahoma’s faults but not only beating Notre Dame by two scores. The Bearcats blew out UCF and got their style points. They have multiple players who could be NFL starters on their defense. It’s all style points from here. Put them in the College Football Playoff.

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

SMU enjoyed a bye week, and that’s just fine as they prepare for a second-half run where anything less than making the AAC Championship Game would be a disappointment. The offense is insanely explosive. The defense is chaotic in good and bad ways. Tulane is up next.

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

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

Like SMU, Houston had the weekend off and will be dealing with hefty expectations in the second half of the season. Their offense has grown in its consistency and their defense is full of great athletes, but they still need to prove it against tougher competition.

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

Memphis is a team that can be difficult to judge, but they looked against Navy as they ended a three-game losing streak. By no means is Memphis a perfect team, but who is at this point? Seth Henigan is a great young quarterback who is growing into his own. Calvin Austin III is probably the best wide receiver in the conference. There are issues, but there is also a ton of explosive talent.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Cincinnati Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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

Where does UCF belong on this list after Cincinnati spanked the Knights like their kid who just learned to swear? How much do you take injuries into consideration for UCF? Honestly, it’s hard to say and fifth on this list feels high. The thing is that there are still a ton of great athletes on both sides of the ball at UCF, and I think they’d beat any team behind them on this list (including Navy, who they admittedly lost to).

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

ECU is having a great season. Mike Houston is building a great foundation for this program, and it’s exciting that the results are starting to come around, especially considering the Pirates could easily be 5-1 right now. They’re not perfect, but they’re good and legitimately fun to watch. What more do you need?

NCAA Football: Tulane at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

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

My refusal to admit Tulane might be worse than average is going to last at least until they aren’t bowl eligible. Of course, the truth is that they played a challenging schedule under challenging circumstances to this point. Now, those are kind of excuses but they’re impactful things when you look at the Green Wave’s record. They’re still well-coached with a high-potential quarterback. The defense is a mess, though.

8. Tulsa (3-4, 2-1)

Don’t ask how you got there, just ask what the result is. That’s the best policy sometimes. Tulsa beat USF on a come-from-behind victory, and they deserve credit for not quitting on a game where they were down and out for a good portion of the game. They have issues, but conference play has gone well so far.

NCAA Football: Navy at Memphis Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

9. Navy (1-5, 1-2)

Navy’s first drive against Memphis lasted more than 11 minutes and ended in a touchdown. Memphis responded with a one-play touchdown drive. Ultimately, it was this explosiveness from Memphis that let them build up a lead that the Midshipmen couldn’t come back from. That’s to be expected because that’s not how Navy is built. The thing is that in the past three weeks the Midshipmen are showing that they’re still capable of running their team successfully.

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

Bye week for the Owls, and it’s worth pointing out that a bowl game is still within reach. It’s not likely, though, because of how young this team is in large part. They also lack a true identity on either side of the ball. Temple Tuff is dead, but they can try and save it still.

11. USF (1-5, 0-2)

USF should have beaten Tulsa and gotten their first FBS win in the Jeff Scott era. The problem they ran into was Scott’s game management skills clearly aren’t up to snuff yet. Forcing turnovers and having a roster that’s playing hard despite their record helped a lot, but the reality is that Tulsa was the better team and the better-coached team. Keep the faith in Jeff Scott, but he needs to be better too.