This was an exciting week around the AAC, with Cincinnati going on upset alert, UCF and Memphis coming together in what’s become a good rivalry and the Space Game, and ECU-Houston taking over nine hours with weather delays to answer questions about two of the conference’s most interesting teams, among other games. Only Tulsa had a bye this week, so there was plenty to learn.
As always, these rankings are fairly fluid. It’s also gotten to that part of the season where teams are going to be ranked well above or below teams that they’ve already played and may have lost or beaten. This is about their body of work, after all, and while one game can influence their standings, it’s not the only thing that’s happened. These are also very open to debate, and not a direct reflection of conference standings.
So, here are the AAC Power Rankings through Week 8:
1. Cincinnati (7-0, 3-0)
The Bearcats got a small scare against Navy this week, but after adding three points at the end of the first half Cincinnati was able to control the game for the most part. Even with that slow start, Cincinnati is still clearly the best team in the AAC. They’re more experienced, faster, and stronger across the board.
2. SMU (7-0, 3-0)
SMU is very quietly unbeaten right now. With Coastal Carolina going down, the Mustangs now control their own fate for a New Year’s Six game going forward. Beat Cincinnati and win the conference, and they should be in. This week SMU blew out an overmatched Tulane team, while quarterback Tanner Mordecai continues to put up massive numbers.
3. Houston (6-1, 4-0)
Speaking of continuing to quietly win games, Houston has ripped off six in a row now. This past week went to overtime with ECU, after a weather delay that lasted over five hours. It was uncomfortable, and difficult to keep your focus. Houston was strong throughout the game, especially stopping the run behind an incredibly underrated defense.
4. UCF (4-3, 2-2)
Here is where things start to get tricky. UCF is a highly injured team who just won a game by three scores and 80 yards passing. There is hope that Dillon Gabriel can come back, but there also isn’t any indication of when that could be. They’ve won every game at home while losing every game on the road. There is still a lot of talent here, and the Knights are going to win a bunch more games.
5. ECU (3-4, 1-2)
ECU is good at football, but they’re clearly not great at it yet. ECU is a couple plays here or there from being 6-1 this season, but they’re struggling to find ways to win. These past couple of games weren’t easy, though, and the Pirates showed a lot of resilience to come back and force overtime against Houston. Consistency is key, and ECU has some time against weaker competition to find that consistency now.
6. Memphis (4-4, 1-3)
Memphis didn’t have Seth Henigan against UCF, which was definitely part of why they lost and only put up seven points. Still, even with Henigan, Memphis has lost four of their last five, including three conference games. This slide is bad, and it’s predicated on a defense that can’t stop the run and an offense that is turning the ball over way too much.
7. Navy (1-6, 1-3)
Navy’s record is what it is, but anyone watching the Midshipmen has seen their growth every single week. This is a really difficult team to play, especially when Navy is playing at home. The offense is working the way it’s supposed to, and they just gave Cincinnati a tougher game than Notre Dame did.
8. Tulsa (3-4, 2-1)
Tulsa had a bye week, which means that they’ve still won three of their last four conference games. The trouble is that those wins aren’t particularly impressive. Arkansas State is bad, Memphis is spiraling, and USF is in a complete rebuild. The truth is that this makes Tulsa a difficult team to judge. On offense, for instance, Tulsa can run the ball well but the passing game has been disappointing. It’s also a tough juxtaposition with last year’s team.
9. Tulane (1-6, 0-3)
As much fun as Tulane and the Angry Wave logo can be, it’s time to admit that Tulane is just bad at football this year. It’s not that there aren’t any weapons on offense. It’s more about the defense’s inability to stop anyone that’s becoming a major issue. Tulane is currently 128th in total defense, allowing 493.9 yards per game. Because of that, they’re giving up 42.29 points per game, which is also 128th out of 130 teams in the country. The only two teams worse in those categories are Arkansas State and UMass. Cincinnati comes to NOLA next, and the Green Wave is in trouble.
10. USF (2-5, 1-2)
USF just got their first win over an FBS team during the Jeff Scott era, and they did it by dominating Temple. The Bulls had 421 rushing yards to the Owls’ 48. That, by itself, is an insane stat disparity, but it didn’t stop there. USF had 34 first downs to Temple’s 8, they didn’t punt, and they won the turnover battle. It was a great win for USF after a frustrating loss to Tulsa that they can build on.
11. Temple (3-4, 1-2)
Temple’s record is a bit inflated by wins over an FCS team that hasn’t won a game since September of 2019, a bad Akron team, and whatever we think Memphis is this season. Of course, the biggest problem isn’t that Temple lost to a team in a similar spot to them on the road. It’s how they lost. USF dominated them, running right through them. That’s a bad, frustrating look for a school that’s supposed to be Temple Tuff.