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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Cougars claim top spot in AAC Power Rankings


With an 11-1 record already in hand and two more games to go, the Cougars will be looking to finish one of the best seasons in school history. | File photo/The Cougar

With the last week of the regular season finished for most teams, we’ll take a look at the American Athletic Conference power rankings heading into conference championship weekend.

The best:

No. 1 Houston Cougars: UH squared off with the United States Naval Academy for the top spot in the West and the top spot in the power rankings, and the Cougars walked away victorious.

Their 52-31 win over the Midshipmen showed a resiliency to bounce back from an upset win the week earlier, and the Cougars planned well for the triple option.

UH has also put themselves in a good position to clinch their first conference championship since 2006 and maybe even a bid in a New Year’s 6 bowl game.

No. 2 Temple Owls: Temple University wrapped up the East with a dominating 27-3 win over the University of Connecticut on Saturday, securing their spot in the championship game.

The Owls defense was staggering again, taking advantage of a back-up quarterback for the Huskies en route to securing their tenth win of the season.

Now, Temple will face what is probably their second-toughest test of the season on the road at UH, but if the defense shows up again, they could be in for a good afternoon.

No. 3 Navy Midshipmen: While Navy still has one regular season game left this year, against the United States Military Academy, they Midshipmen have already put together a great season.

Navy’s only two losses this year have come against UH and the University of Notre Dame and quarterback Keenan Reynolds has been breaking records all season.

While it may have been their first year in a conference, Navy showed they’re ready to compete right away and for years to come.

No. 4 Memphis Tigers: While the Tigers stumbled a bit to end the year, losing three of their last four games, a 63-0 win against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs capped off the season well.

Memphis rolled their way to a 9-3 record and should be able to wrap up a win in the bowl season, junior quarterback Paxton Lynch might be off to the NFL, and head coach Justin Fuente recently took the open heading coaching position at Virginia Tech, leaving an amount of uncertainty heading into the next season.

No. 5 USF Bulls: While, on the surface, an 8-4 record for the University of South Florida might not seem that impressive, when you look at those losses, it starts to appear a lot more impressive.

Their four losses came against Memphis, Navy, the University of Maryland and Florida State University, while they won all of the games they were supposed to.

While they fell just short of the East title this season, the Bulls will definitely be back for more next year.

The best of the rest:

No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats: The University of Cincinnati suffered some tough losses this season, including three losses by one possession, but they showed flashes of brilliance this season.

With junior quarterback Gunner Kiel expected back for another season, the Bearcats can compete yet again. Although they lose a couple of senior receivers, the passing attack has some good, young talent that should help to fill that void.

No. 7 University of Connecticut Huskies: The University of Connecticut suffered a bit of bad luck at the end of the season with injuries, but the Huskies are on the right path.

If the team stays healthy next year, and head coach Bob Diaco continues to help the team improve as he has been, UConn could pull a couple more upsets. They may not be competing for a conference title just yet, but they aren’t far off.

No. 8 Tulsa Golden Hurricanes: The University of Tulsa is going bowling again after a 6-6 season, thanks to a comeback win in the regular-season finale against Tulane University.

Tulsa should continue to improve, but don’t expect them to be a force in the West next season.

No. 9 East Carolina University Pirates: ECU took a bit of a step in the wrong direction this season after having pretty competitive seasons the past few years.

The Pirates just missed out on a bowl game after a 19-16 loss to Cincinnati, but head coach Ruffin McNeill will be looking to retool this offseason and get back on track.

The others:

No. 10 SMU Mustangs: The Mustangs only had two wins this season came against the University of North Texas and Tulane, but don’t expect head coach Chad Morris and the Mustangs to be down for long.

The rebuilding project is still underway at SMU, but Morris is the man to lead it.

No. 11 Tulane Green Wave: After a 3-9 season, head coach Curtis Johnson was fired at Tulane University. With the volatility of the coaching market, Tulane will be looking to pick up someone to help build the program in the coming years, but it could be a long road back for them.

No. 12 UCF Knights: The University of Central Florida suffered a winless season, but it seems that some of the unrest in the program might be at an end.

They’ve got a good athletic director who just made the smart hire of University of Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost to be the new head coach, who will look to get the Knights back on track.

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