If I was AAC commissioner Mike Aresco, I would just embrace what the AAC is now: the conference of chaos.
Through seven weeks, there is nothing “normal” about the AAC, and that’s a good thing! See, college football is meant to be chaotic. It’s why college students camp out at 11 A.M. the day before for College GameDay, and it’s why everyone spends 12 hours of a weekend watching the sport.
Last week, four intra-conference games took place in the AAC, and, oh boy, did we learn a lot of things about a lot of teams.
Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on who your favorite team is but by week 7 of the college football season, you should know what your team is or is not and we should all just embrace it.
Winner: Tulane... again
The barometer to deciding if a team is good or not is a challenging task but, for the most part, if you can find different ways to win — whether it’s pretty or ugly — you are a good team.
Yep, Tulane is good.
At this point in the season, Tulane sits atop the AAC with a 6-1 record and a 3-0 conference record. They’re also ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1998. While it hasn’t always been pretty — Tulane’s point margin in FBS games is just +68 in six games — the Green Wave has found ways to win and that matters.
Even though they were within one score against USF (more on them later), Tulane found a way to pull ahead late and may have finally found themselves something to work with on offense. I say that because Tulane’s quarterback Michael Pratt finished the game with 329 passing yards and four total touchdowns.
It’s 1998 all over again for Tulane and dang, that feels good.
Loser: Memphis’ Defense
Memphis’ defense has been good up until the last two weeks, and the wheels fell off the wagon in their 47-45 loss to East Carolina.
Allowing 47 points is already bad enough but some of the other numbers are just as concerning. ECU was 10-of-15 on 3rd downs, allowed 473 yards of total offense, and had 0 turnovers.
I’m not a college football defensive coordinator but that’s not good. In fact, I think it’s bad.
It’s not time to panic yet — Memphis is still 4-3 this season — but there needs to be a clean-up on the defensive side of the ball with the tough schedule that faces Memphis. The Tigers will continue their season with games against Tulane and UCF. They also play SMU to close the season.
Winner: John Rhys Plumlee
Maybe I was wrong about John Rhys Plumlee...
Earlier in the season, I was hypercritical about this UCF offense because I didn’t believe that quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was a consistent enough passer to lead a high-level offense. While he hasn’t been consistent, the Ole Miss transfer showed something against Temple.
Plumlee had the best game of his season against Temple, completing 18 of his 22 passes for 373 yards and four passing touchdowns. According to Game on Paper, Plumlee also had an EPA of 23.41 (!!!), meaning he accounted for 23 points by himself.
UCF’s offense will rely heavily on Plumlee and if the team wants to win the AAC Championship, they’ll need more games where Plumlee takes over.
Loser: Jeff Scott
There’s no need to have a conversation anymore, Jeff Scott is not the guy to lead the USF football program.
Yes, the situation has hardly been favorable, and there might not be a team in the nation with as many injuries as USF has, but the reality is that this team isn’t winning games.
This season, USF has competed with all three of Florida, Cincinnati, and Tulane and, despite having leads throughout the games, has not found ways to win the games.
As much as it may be unfair, college football is a results-driven industry. You have to win games on the field and USF isn’t winning much.
Winner: SMU’s offense
SMU’s offense was explosive in their win against Navy.
On just 48 scrimmage plays, SMU’s offense had 10 explosive plays. For those of you doing the math at home, that means that 21% of SMU’s offensive plays were considered “explosive.” For reference, explosive plays are pass plays that net greater than 2.4 EPA or runs that net greater than 1.8 EPA.
Rhett Lashlee's offenses have long been built upon their ability to create explosive plays, and their win against Navy proved why it’s so important to how they want to operate.