Week 4 finally saw conference play start for the AAC, even if it was only one game. Elsewhere, Memphis and Tulane dropped games against C-USA opponents, SMU fried up some frog legs in their iron skillet, Tulsa got their first win, USF showed resilience, and a couple teams got an FCS win. For their part, UCF and Cincinnati had a bye week to get ready for Navy and Notre Dame respectively.
In last week’s power rankings, Cincinnati led the way, while Navy hung out at the bottom of the class. This week there is plenty of room for movement. So, here are the AAC power rankings through Week 4:
1. Cincinnati (3-0)
The Bearcats were on a bye in Week 4, but there really isn’t any debate about who the best team in the AAC is right now. Cincinnati has a dominant defense and an experienced offense that is more than effective. Next week, Cincinnati will have an opportunity to go out and play Notre Dame in South Bend to make a statement on the season.
2. SMU (4-0)
SMU went into Fort Worth and beat previously unbeaten TCU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. They did so, as they always tend to do, by being one of the most explosive teams in the country. This can be a good thing, but it’s also a dangerous way to try and consistently live. Cut some of the turnovers on offense and take the next step defensively and then the Ponies are going to be deadly.
3. UCF (2-1)
Like Cincinnati, UCF is coming off a bye week, which is exactly what they needed to regroup after a heartbreaking loss to Louisville and the injury to Dillon Gabriel. Mikey Keene is the next man up at quarterback, and the Knights need to stay strong on the ground to get through this injury.
4. Memphis (3-1)
Memphis lost their first game of the season to UTSA on a last second field goal in the Liberty Bowl. It was a bit of a letdown game, given they just beat the SEC’s Mississippi State on that same field last week. At least UTSA is a well-respected program and there isn’t any shame in losing to them. The running game was a problem for the Tigers, and they’ll want to shore up their defense going forward.
5. Houston (3-1, 1-0)
Your first place team in the AAC is Houston, for now. I still have my doubts. Wins against Rice, Grambling State, and Navy aren’t impressive, and needing to come from behind to win against this year’s Navy team is a major issue. Still, 3-1 is 3-1, and you are what your record says you are. Now, the schedule is going to start getting tougher in conference play.
6. Tulane (1-3)
Tulane is a very good 1-3 (they’re like the inverse of Houston). The problem is they’re still 1-3. Hurricane Ida displaced the Green Wave for non-conference play, but they still went into Norman and nearly beat Oklahoma. Then there was the admitted disaster against Ole Miss. Now, back at home, they dropped on that they had a chance to come from behind against a good UAB team, but they let it slip through their fingers.
7. ECU (2-2)
After an 0-2 start, ECU is 2-2 with everything in front of them in conference play. The Pirates are a team that has potential, but they just can’t play consistently, even over the course of a sixty minute game. If they ever put it all together they could scare good teams.
8. Tulsa (1-3)
You can’t keep Tulsa winless in non-conference play. It was a shootout, with the Golden Hurricane beating Arkansas State behind a big game from Davis Brin and Shamari Brooks. There is still a lot of work to do here, but the potential is there for Tulsa to bounce back once they get to conference games.
9. USF (1-3)
At the end of the first quarter, it was here we go again for USF, as they trailed 21-0. By the end of the game it was a one score game, and while the Bulls still lost they did show some resilience that wasn’t there against NC State or Florida. That’s improvement and growth, and now that they’ve settled on Timmy McClain, he has a chance to grow and properly develop too.
10. Temple (2-2)
Things are bad in Philadelphia. Yeah, Temple did beat Wagner but they did so in what looked like a stadium that wasn’t allowing fans due to the pandemic. Of course, that empty stadium had more to do with an apathetic fanbase than it did the pandemic. That’s what happens when you have a fanbase that knows their 2-2 record is inflated by games against Akron and Wagner.
11. Navy (0-3, 0-1)
Is there anything good to say about Navy right now? The offense is a mess and there is massive internal turmoil. They jumped out on top of Houston, but couldn’t hold onto the lead. It’s gonna be a long season.