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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Power ranking: Tigers, Cougars tangle at the top of rankings


The Cougars defense has been getting better each week, helping to propel them to No. 2 in the rankings. | File photo/The Cougar

College football is entering the last few weeks of the regular season, and the standings in the American Athletic Conference are about as close as they come.

But which team is really the best? We’re here to break that down with some good old fashioned power rankings.

The Upper Echelon:

No.1: Memphis Tigers – The Tigers have simply been the best team in the AAC this year. One of only two teams still holding to an undefeated overall record, Memphis has done all the right things, and has even surprised a few people. Their upset victory over the University of Mississippi Rebels was a big win and will help them in the eyes of the college football playoff voting committee.

No. 2: Houston Cougars – While on the surface, not too much distinguishes the two teams, both undefeated and both 4-0 in conference play, the Cougars have had a noticeably easier schedule to this point. Sure, a win over Vanderbilt University is nice, but they’re also the resident basement dweller of the Southeastern Conference, very much unlike Ole Miss.

No.3: Temple Owls – While Temple may have suffered a loss against the University of Notre Dame, it’s about as respectable loss as you can get. That showed with Temple dropping just two spots in the AP Poll and one in the Coaches Poll after the loss. Temple is the class of the East this year and controls their own road to the conference championship.

No. 4: Cincinnati Bearcats – This might come as a surprise, having a 5-3 team ahead of a 6-1 team, but closer inspection of the two teams schedules offers a bit of clarity. The University of Cincinnati may have lost three times, but two of those losses came to Memphis and Temple, and each loss was by one possession. Recently, they’ve racked up two wins by two or more scores and sit second in the East.

No. 5: Navy Midshipmen – This is a 1A, 1B scenario with Cincinnati and Navy. The Midshipmen’s only loss comes against a talented Notre Dame squad, but other than that game, they’re really yet to be tested this year, with a couple of fluff out of conference games and a rather easy conference schedule.

Best of the Rest:

No. 6: USF Bulls – Much like in the top five, this group is pretty tight, when it comes to rankings. The University of South Florida is here because they’ve been about what I expected them to be. They’ve won when they should have, and lost when they probably should have.

No. 7: ECU Pirates – I put East Carolina University at seven instead of six for one reason: The UConn loss. While the Huskies are an improved team this year, I was a little surprised the Pirates struggled with them. A one-possession loss to the now-11th ranked University of Florida, and 10-point to loss to Temple are respectable, but the 18-point loss to UConn give me pause. They have a chance to prove me wrong when they travel to play with USF this coming weekend.

No. 8: UConn Huskies – The University of Connecticut Huskies are moving the right way. Much like USF, they’ve won the ones you expect them to, and lose the ones you expect them to, but their lack of a good win, except against ECU, justifies their position to me. They’ve got a tough road to bowl eligibility as well, with two of their last three coming against Houston and Temple.

No. 9: Tulsa Golden Hurricanes – Tulsa rounds out the second tier of programs for me. Its best win this season is either Southern Methodist University or the University of New Mexico. Let that sink in for a second. Its losses include the University of Oklahoma, Houston and Memphis, so pretty respectable, but lack of strong wins is concerning.

The…other ones:

No. 10: Tulane Green Wave – The Tulane University Green Wave have two wins; one against winless University of Central Florida and another against FCS-foe University of Maine. So that’s that, I guess.

No. 11: SMU Mustangs – Despite going 1-2 to begin the season, SMU actually gave me hope. They lost to Baylor University and Texas Christian University, each ranked in the top five in the NCAA, and they played each of them well. Then came the loss to James Madison University, an FCS team. From there, the wheels fell off, and it’s been L’s the whole way.

No. 12: UCF Knights – Oh man, where did this one go wrong. UCF had been the class of the AAC each of the past two years. Not so much this year. Former-head coach George O’Leary resigned after the UH loss and now it’s a serious question if they’ll even manage one win this season.

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