There weren’t many surprises in Week 9 for the AAC. For the most part, the league held serve without any major upsets. Sure, Cincinnati let Tulane hang around and Navy finally got a second win, but not much else.
Oh, and SMU and Houston played the game of the year in the AAC. That was amazing. It’s hard to say that home favorite Houston scored an upset over SMU, but the Mustangs were a top-20 team at the start of the game. Now, after a Marcus Jones kick return that was reminiscent of Mike Hughes’ reservation for six in the 2017 War on I-4, Houston controls its own destiny in the conference with a good shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl.
So, how did that shake up the power rankings?
1. Cincinnati (8-0, 4-0)
Bourbon Street is fun on Halloween weekend. I get it, but Cincinnati really needs to stop playing with its food. The Bearcats have a shot at the College Football Playoff, but they’re going to get passed over if they don’t score style points and dominate teams like Tulane from the word go. So, do what you’re capable of if you’re Cincinnati, and dominate.
2. Houston (7-1, 5-0)
I’m really mad at Houston for blowing their first game against Texas Tech, because they should be undefeated right now, and with their remaining schedule (USF, Temple, Memphis, and UConn) they shouldn’t lose again. It could have been a 12-0 vs. 12-0 AAC Championship Game. Still, give Houston tons of credit for the strides they’ve taken this year. This is a great team, and you can’t say they haven’t played anybody, anymore. Oh, and Marcus Jones is a freak.
3. SMU (7-1, 3-1)
SMU probably lost a shot at the AAC Championship with their loss at Houston. Another year where SMU is a great football team, but they’re not good enough. It’s incredibly frustrating. Great comeback attempt, but the little details still aren’t there. The defense still isn’t good enough, and you not only kicked to Marcus Jones, you also didn’t stay in your lanes in kick coverage. Just kick it out of bounds next time.
4. UCF (5-3, 3-2)
UCF has its issues this season, including injuries to key players on both sides of the ball. However, they’re clearly improving as the season goes on. The defense, in particular, has been dominant. In the two games since the disaster that was the Cincinnati loss, the Knights have given up 14 total points (7 of which were garbage time to Temple) and forced seven turnovers. Rumors are starting to swirl that Dillon Gabriel might be on his way back too.
5. ECU (4-4, 2-2)
A couple of weeks ago the Pirates took Houston to overtime after a five hour lighting delay. Ultimately, fumbles got to them. At home against USF, the weather was again terrible and ECU kept fumbling in the first half, but they got things going in the second half and looked like the clearly better team. As always, play more consistently, but being bowl eligible is very on the table for the first time since 2014.
6. Memphis (4-4, 1-3)
Not going to punish Memphis for being on a bye week. The problem is that they desperately needed it. The Tigers are more talented than their 1-4 spiral that they’re currently in, but they have to go and prove that. Their last four games won’t be easy, either. Missing a bowl game is definitely on the table.
7. Navy (2-6, 2-3)
Navy has been improving rapidly this season, and they beat Tulsa in the most Navy way possible. They had 302 yards rushing, and 0 yards passing. It was beautiful and glorious. Take a minute and ignore the record. Navy is doing what they’re supposed to do, and we should all appreciate that.
8. Tulane (1-7, 0-4)
I am, once again, asking you to ignore the record. Ignore how Tulane is clearly one of the worst defenses in the conference. Michael Pratt has had issues with turnovers and is now banged up. The offense, on the whole, has been disappointing. Still, give Tulane credit because they have gone toe to toe with two unbeaten teams, Oklahoma and Cincinnati, and made them both look mortal now. Next up, a trip to the Bounce House for UCF’s homecoming.
9. Tulsa (3-5, 2-2)
When you lose a game without giving up a passing yard, you need to get punished a little bit. Over the course of this year, it’s become clear that last year was just magic in a bottle. The offense is mediocre and the defense has holes that it didn’t have in 2020. Now, they’re in danger of missing bowl season, as they still have Cincinnati and SMU on the schedule.
10. USF (2-6, 1-3)
For about a half, with their third string quarterback, it looked like the Bulls were going to upset ECU. Then things unraveled, especially on offense. That’s been pretty par for the course this year. It’s just important to read between the lines for USF. This is a building project. They’re trying to build a foundation to build upwards from. Their running game looks like it could be that foundation and there is plenty of effort from everyone.
11. Temple (3-5, 1-3)
Everything went wrong for Temple against UCF, as they kept turning the ball over on downs, fumbling, or committing penalties at the worst possible times. They let freshman quarterback Mikey Keene get going (He entered the game with 5 TDs and 5 INTs on the season, and left with 10 TDs and 6 INTs. He was also averaging just 126.2 yards per game passing, and had a career high 229). It was a disaster, and they simply looked like they didn’t want to be there. You as an excuse only goes so far.