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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Around the Conference: Week 11 rankings

The comeback marks the third-largest come-from-behind victory in UH football history. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

The Cougars entered the season as clear favorites in the American Athletic Conference, but due to a rough October, they have fallen in the rankings. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

The American Athletic Conference is more congested at the top than in previous years, as seven teams could still technically qualify for the conference championship game.

Through week 11, here is how they stack up:

1. United States Naval Academy Midshipmen

Navy was the last team to drop a conference game when they lost to the University of South Florida. After falling behind early, the Midshipmen stormed back in the fourth quarter, but the comeback attempt was too late.

They’re still the team to beat in the West Conference, but the game this week against the University of Tulsa will likely decide who will represent the region in the championship game.

2. Temple University Owls

Entering the season, the Owls were favored to represent the East in the championship game for the second consecutive year. After defeating USF earlier this season, they are now in control of their destiny.

They are off this week, but have one of the easiest remaining schedules. They play the University of Tulane in New Orleans before hosting East Carolina University to close out the season.

3. Houston Cougars

If the past five games have taught the Cougars anything, it should be that there is no such thing as an easy game. They were heavy favorites to win the West and also the conference championship.

They need to win out and have Navy lose two games and Tulsa lose one game, so the odds are stacked against them.

They host Tulane this week, followed by the University of Louisville in a non-conference game. They will then travel to face the University of Memphis Tigers, which could mean nothing other than where the Cougars will play come bowl time.

4. USF Bulls

The Bulls are one of four one-loss teams, but need to win out and have Temple lose at least one game to head to the championship game since Temple owns the tiebreaker.

USF travels to Memphis this week to take on the Tigers in what will likely be a tightly-contested match.

5. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

After losing at the last second to UH, the Golden Hurricane have gone on a three-game winning streak and are technically in first in the West. As mentioned previously, their game against Navy this week will likely determine who heads to the championship game.

They have found a rhythm with senior quarterback Dane Evans at the helm and look to take advantage of the conference giants that have stumbled this year.

6. Memphis Tigers

Much like the Cougars, the Tigers are better than their conference record indicates. They had close games against USF and Navy, but were blown out by Tulsa, who have come on strong lately.

With those losses against Navy and Tulsa, it is almost impossible for the Tigers to represent the West, but they can ruin any chance that USF and Houston still have.

7. University of Central Florida Knights

The Knights are 3-2 in conference, but could’ve been 4-1 if they would’ve been able to hold on against Houston. Their other loss came in a one-point defeat to Temple.

If not for a few mistakes, the Knights could be undefeated in conference, but then again, that’s football.

UCF still has a chance to win their side of the conference, but need to beat USF and have Temple lose their last two since the Owls own the tiebreaker.

8. Southern Methodist University Mustangs

SMU’s signature win came in a 38-16 romping of the Cougars. They looked to have turned it around when they beat the University of Tulane the following week.

Just two weeks after their big win, though, the Mustangs were embarrassed by Memphis in a 51-7 rout.

They play East Carolina University before closing out the season against USF and Navy, which is arguably one of the toughest remaining conference schedules.

9. East Carolina Pirates

The next three teams can be interchanged, but the Pirates have the most potent offense of the three. They’re coming off of a 21-point loss to Tulsa, but blew out the University of Connecticut the previous week.

They head to Dallas to take on SMU before finishing the season against Navy and Temple in consecutive weeks.

10. University of Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats only conference win of the season came against ECU, but the team has struggled to put up points.

They did keep it close against UH early in the season before the Cougars pulled away in the fourth, but since then, Cincinnati has fallen apart.

They hit the road this week to play UCF before closing out at home against Memphis and Tulsa in back-to-back weeks.

11. UConn Huskies

Although the Huskies’ one conference win came against the Bearcats, they are currently on a four-game losing streak. In that span, they have been outscored 128-46 and were even shut out against Temple.

They get a week off before playing Boston College in a non-conference game.

12. Tulane Green Wave

The Green Wave have yet to win a conference game, but look to hand the Cougars the upset this week.

They are also riding a four-game losing streak and have three more conference games to try to get a win. Up first is Houston, followed by Temple and then UConn.

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