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Three Things We Learned about the AAC in Week Four

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Memphis dominates, South Florida finally plays someone, and the whole conference is better than anyone predicted.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Memphis
Memphis Tigers defensive back Arthur Maulet (8) celebrates with teammates and fans after helping obliterate Memphis, 77-3. Next up: Ole Miss.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida is good, but not, y’know, Playoff-good

South Florida was absent from this space last week, as despite being 3-0 we still hadn’t really learned anything about them, other than they were adept at squashing bad teams. This week we learned how high their ceiling actually goes— or doesn’t go— as they fell 55-35 to Florida State.

That 35 points is important, as the Bulls still lead the American in rushing and rushing touchdowns. They have 1031 yards on the ground through four games, including 14 touchdowns, more than any other team in the conference (Houston has 13). Their passing is middling (5th out of 12 teams), but that’s okay because the guy doing the passing, Quinton Flowers, is also one of their top rushers. Flowers led the squad against FSU with 159 yards on 18 carries (avg: 8.8 ypc). Who has the most points scored through four weeks of AAC play? No, not Houston— they’ve put up 179 points so far this season, to USF’s 184.

Overall, USF’s numbers this week are why FSU won’t be winning any playoff games this year, but they’re also why the Bulls at the Bearcats next week might not be quite the barnburner we were anticipating.

What the Heck is going on in Memphis

Scorned by the Big 12, Memphis beat Bowling Green this week even worse than Houston beat Texas State. 77-3 was the final score, and that 3 didn’t even come during garbage time, it was in the first quarter while the Tigers were still distracted by the shiny lights.

While it’s important to note that Memphis has yet to play a team with a winning record, their defense has proven up to the task as opposed to, say, East Carolina, which has put up an obscene number of yards in the air while stumbling to a 2-2 record.

Much like USF this week, Memphis could come crashing down next week as they travel to 16th-ranked Ole Miss. But whoever loses, we win. Prediction: Points.

The Ceiling of the Whole Conference is High

After four weeks, every single FBS conference has at least one team with a losing record, except two: the SEC, and the American.

Based on huge gains both on the ground and in the air, we will posit to you that this is indeed due to quality and not just clever scheduling. And yet, the conference is still considered an underdog, with only one ranked team (Houston) and one in the “others receiving votes” category (Memphis, 6 votes in the AP poll).

This is a mistake, as the records clearly indicate. The worst team in the conference, SMU, is one of only two teams to have allowed more points than it’s scored, and yet they still sit at 2-2 after four weeks. While their schedule isn’t exactly a beacon of quality so far, it’s easy to forget how recently the Big East was considered a power conference, and the AAC insists on playing at that same level week after week, despite the polls lumping them in with the likes of Mountain West or C-USA.

While the MW has two teams ranked in the AP this week, the American is a better conference from top to bottom, and has proved it over the first four weeks of the season. How the final standings shake out is still up for debate, but the conference is already playing at a higher level than the Big 12, and is a Clemson loss from creeping up over a second Power Five as well. Watch out.