Conference Update: UCF chugging along while Cincinnati surprises
The football season is nearly halfway through and the American Athletic Conference hierarchy has started to take shape.
Most of the preseason favorites are still going strong, and three teams are ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls.
In the AAC East, No. 10/9 UCF is 5-0 this year with wins over the Atlantic Coastal Conference’s Pittsburgh and fellow AAC teams SMU and Connecticut. The Knights’ five wins have extended their streak to 18 straight wins including their 13-0 season in 2017.
No. 23/23 USF is 5-0 with Power Five wins over Georgia Tech and Illinois and is looking to remain undefeated in the War on I-4 with UCF.
No. 25/25 Cincinnati has been the surprise of the conference. It is 6-0 this season after going 4-8 last season. The Bearcats have had much of their success thanks to their defense.
The team has one of the top defenses in the conference and has allowed just 270 yards and 13.7 points per game this season. With the sixth win, Cincinnati is bowl eligible for the first time since 2015.
In the West, Houston leads the division with a 1-0 conference record and is the only one-loss team in the division. Houston leads the AAC in scoring and total offense, but its success goes higher than just conference accolades.
In fact, Houston is second in the nation in offensive yards per game with 582 yards. The team’s defense, however, is the second worst in the conference and one of the worst in the nation.
The Navy Midshipmen have been so-so. The team’s potent run game is the same as it has always been, but it slipped up against SMU and in the annual Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy matchup with Air Force.
Navy’s triple-option offense has not changed in years, but it may need to add a couple wrinkles if it wishes to right the ship.
Memphis was another championship candidate at the beginning of the season, but it has already lost two games when it only lost three all of last season.
The team has put up big numbers against lesser competition, but against other AAC West foes Tulane and Navy, the offense sputtered out.
Overall, the East is carrying the reputation of the division while the teams in the West, with the exception of Houston, are still trying to figure things out.