Around the Conference: Power rankings
Despite a hiccup against the United States Naval Academy Midshipmen and a close call with the University of Tulsa in back-to-back weeks, the Cougars are still atop the American Athletic Conference power rankings.
While the Cougars have remained at No. 1 since the beginning of the season, there are a couple of other teams trying to move up with strong play.
Here is where the teams stack up entering week eight.
1. Houston Cougars
Although a case could be made for Navy, the Cougars have the biggest signature win among all conference teams. They also have the strongest schedule out of anyone in the conference and have been banged-up all year.
The Cougars’ injury report has grown every week, but they just plug in players and keep playing.
The loss to Navy definitely hurt their credibility as a contender, but the Cougars are still the team to beat in the conference.
2. University of South Florida Bulls
The Bulls have won all three of their conference games by double digits and are capable of winning the conference championship — especially if the Cougars don’t make it.
USF’s only loss came at the hands of in-state rival Florida State University.
The Bulls are the only undefeated team in the East division and have already played three of five games against other teams in that division. This week’s match versus Temple University could determine who will win the East.
3. United States Naval Academy Midshipmen
The Midshipmen have not played since they stunned the college football world after beating the Cougars. Their game against East Carolina University was cancelled due to weather and moved to Nov. 19.
Navy hosts the University of Memphis this week before heading to Florida to take on USF. These next two games are critical if the Midshipmen want to represent the West.
4. University of Memphis Tigers
The Tigers get the first chance to upset the newly ranked Midshipmen. They will, however, have to do it on the road, where the Midshipmen just beat the Cougars.
When the Tigers were ranked No. 13 last year, they lost to Navy 45-20. Both teams have many different pieces from last year, though.
If the Tigers want to upset a ranked team, they will have to figure out how to stop the triple option.
5. University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa is coming off of a last-second defeat and looking to bounce back when they host Tulane University.
The loss put the Golden Hurricane in fourth place in the West, but they still get a chance to play Navy and Memphis. Both games are on the road.
Tulsa’s only other loss this season was to the Ohio State University.
6. Temple University Owls
If the Owls want to repeat as representatives in the East, the opportunity will come this weekend when they host USF. Temple lost 44-23 to the Bulls on the road last season.
A win versus USF gives the Owls the tiebreaker, and their remaining schedule is considerably easier than the Bulls.
7. University of Central Florida Knights
The Knights are only 1-1 in conference since Hurricane Matthew postponed their game against Tulane.
They can still clinch the East but have to win out, which means beating UH and USF on the road. They would also need Temple to lose at least one game.
8. University of Connecticut Huskies
The Huskies are 1-3 in conference with their only win coming against the University of Cincinnati.
They played well against Navy and USF until a fourth-quarter explosion. The team’s schedule gets a little easier down the stretch, but at this point they are unlikely to compete for a spot in the conference championship.
9. Tulane University Green Wave
Tulane is 0-2 so far in league play, but they have a chance to turn it around when they head to Tulsa this weekend.
Although they have not won a conference game, the Green Wave had the lead on Navy before the Midshipmen scored eight points in the fourth.
Tulane has a tough three-week stretch starting Nov. 5 that sees them play UCF, Houston and Temple.
10. Southern Methodist University Mustangs
SMU hosts the Cougars Saturday, looking for the upset. The Mustangs actually led UH until midway through the second quarter last season.
This year they need to hold on to the ball and contain senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. in the pocket.
11. University of Cincinnati Bearcats
The Bearcats have lost three straight conference games so far this season, but will try to rebound when they host ECU.
Cincinnati has had trouble keeping their quarterbacks healthy. They are now on their third-string play caller, who actually happened to be the team’s starter last year.
12. East Carolina University Pirates
The Pirates are on a four-game losing streak and had their most recent game against Navy postponed. Now they will have to play Navy the week before they take on Temple.
They travel to Ohio this week to take on the Bearcats, so one of these teams will get their first conference win.