1. Memphis (9-3, 7-1; LW: 1): Memphis was idle for the final week of the regular season, but secured their share of the American Athletic Conference championship with their win over Connecticut on Nov. 29. The Tigers, who bring a six-game winning streak into postseason play, have won a conference title for the first time since 1971 and will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The Tigers will face BYU (8-4), which will take a four-game winning streak into the Miami Beach Bowl.
2. Cincinnati (9-3, 7-1; LW: 2): With a share of the AAC title on the line and Gunner Kiel leaving the game with cramps, Munchie Legaux kept the offense moving and Cincinnati held on for the win over Houston 38-31. Kiel threw for two touchdowns and Mike Boone ran for three scores, but Legaux’s efficient day helped the Bearcats to the title share. The defense stepped up to get a couple stops as the Cougars were pressing and the Bearcats earned a Dec. 27 bowl date with Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl.
3. UCF (9-3, 7-1; LW: 3): Just when it seemed like George O’Leary’s team had collapsed on the road against ECU, Justin Holman threw a 51-yard Hail Mary to Breshad Perriman for the win and AAC title share. UCF used the help of three turnovers and a stout run defense to build a 26-9 lead entering the fourth quarter. What a wild finish for the Knights regular season. The Knights play in the St. Petersburg Bowl against North Carolina State.
4. East Carolina (8-4, 5-3; LW: 4): Down 17 points entering the fourth quarter to UCF, Shane Carden got the ECU offense to come to life and score 21 unanswered points. So ECU wins and ruins UCF’s season right? Not so fast. The Pirates’ defense allowed the Knights to get into Hail Mary territory and Breshad Perriman hauled in a 51-yard touchdown for the win. Perriman was pretty much wide open once the Pirates over-played the deep ball. Carden’s home career ends in a sickening fashion for the Pirates. The Pirates head to the Birmingham Bowl to face Florida.
5. Houston (7-5, 5-3; LW: 5): Greg Ward and the Houston Cougars only turnover of the game came at the 13 yard line and it came back to haunt the Cougars in their 38-31 loss. The Cougars had nearly 600 yards of offense on the day, but couldn’t come back in the fourth quarter. The loss may have been the final straw in the Tony Levine era as reports came out that he will be fired. Houston will head to the Armed Forces Bowl this bowl season.
6. Temple (6-6, 4-4; LW: 6): In a pretty boring game, Temple topped Tulane 10-3 to become bowl eligible. While the Owls did not receive an invitation, they showed big improvement throughout the year. P.J. Walker accounted for 333 yards, a touchdown and interception in the win. The two teams were a combined 3-of-30 on third downs. Walker hit Romand Deloactch with an 8-yard pass with 8:39 to play that got the Owls the win.
7. Tulsa (2-10, 2-6; LW: 7): Tulsa was idle in the final week of the regular season. The Golden Hurricane finished with three straight losses after beating SMU and didn’t have a single out of conference win either. David Beaty has been hired after Bill Blakenship was fired following the season. The former Texas A&M receivers coach has plenty to do.
8. South Florida (4-8, 3-5; LW: 8): South Florida was idle after being shut out by UCF a week ago 16-0. The Bulls have work to do on offense, but the defense played admirable most of the times this season.
9. Tulane (3-9, 2-6; LW: 9): Tanner Lee and Nick Montana were both ineffective in Tulane’s loss to Temple Saturday. The pair combined for just 151 yards passing and zero touchdowns. The Green Wave didn’t get any help from the running game either. Tulane has a lot of work to do to get an offense going or it will sit in the cellar of the AAC for quite sometime.
10. SMU (1-11, 1-7; LW: 11): It had been 378 days since an SMU win and 25 years since SMU beat Connecticut in the “Miracle on Mockingbird.” The Mustangs ended their winless streak by beating UConn in the freezing rain 27-20. SMU scored the final 21 points in the game and held UConn scoreless in the second half. SMU took advantage of the five Huskies turnovers and Matt Davis played lights out football aside from a fumble and interception. Davis accounted for an SMU QB record 191 yards rushing and 145 yards passing. SMU ends their season on a high note with the win and hiring of Chad Morris.
11. Connecticut (2-10, 1-7; LW: 10): Even in the freezing rain it looked like the Huskies were trying to give this one away. Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle were both terrible, combining for 4-of-14 for 67 yards and an interception. While the team ran for 250 yards, the Huskies couldn’t keep a handle on the ball, turning it over five times. Not the way the Huskies wanted to finish after being blown out in their three previous games.