1. Memphis Tigers (5-0, AAC: 2-0; LW: 1)
Last week: OFF
Memphis got a perfectly timed bye week to prepare for a massive home matchup against Ole Miss this week. The Rebels are coming off a homecoming win over New Mexico and now turn their attention to a tough non-conference foe. The Tigers have one of the better offenses in the country, but must deal with a tough front seven for Ole Miss, that includes the No. 1 player in the 2013 class, Robert Nkemdiche. If the Tigers win, that’s certainly the marquee win they’d need to make a case to the College Football Playoff committee if they win out.
This week: hosts Ole Miss at Sat., Oct. 17 at 11 am CT on ABC/ESPN2
2. Houston Cougars (5-0, AAC: 2-0; LW: 2)
Last week: beat SMU 49-28
Houston ran away from SMU while taking advantage of some SMU turnovers Thursday night. Greg Ward Jr. and Kenneth Farrow again starred for the Cougars, who cracked the top 25 this week, combining for seven touchdowns. Ward only missed on two throws all night, completing 16 passes for 243 yards. While SMU did a good job limiting him to 82 yards on the ground, his lowest output of the season, Houston was in control following a tough end to the first half for SMU. The Cougars overmatched SMU in the trenches in the second half and move on now to an AAC bottom feeder in Tulane.
This week: at Tulane on Fri., Oct. 16 at 8 pm CT on ESPNU
3. Temple Owls (5-0, AAC: 2-0; LW: 3)
Last week: beat Tulane 49-10
Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Amsted scored twice in a rout of Tulane while the defense also added an interception return for a touchdown. The Owls also harassed Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee all game, holding him to just 95 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Even more impressive, was the Owls holding Tulane to just .3 yards per carry in the game, as the Green Wave finished with just eight yards on the ground. While Temple was also penalized seven times for 55 yards and lost two fumbles, the win was never in doubt. Temple dominated a game they should have from start to finish.
This week: hosts UCF on Sat., Oct. 17 at 6:30 pm CT
4. Navy Midshipmen (4-1, AAC: 2-0; LW: 4)
Last week: lost to Notre Dame 41-24
After ending the first half just down three points, the Midshipmen got beat up on in the second half by a strong Notre Dame ground game. Navy always gives Notre Dame a good game and I thought there was a real shot they’d pull the upset, but turnovers, penalties and missed assignments ended up costing them. Keenan Reynolds missed part of the second quarter, but still finished with 110 yards on 15 carries, but the Irish held him without a rushing touchdown so Reynolds remains four shy of the NCAA record for touchdowns.
This week: OFF
5. Cincinnati Bearcats (3-2, AAC: 0-2; LW: 5)
Last week: OFF
Following a big win over Miami at home, the Bearcats got a week to refocus before a tough matchup against BYU, who held off a pesky East Carolina squad this past week. Hayden Moore has been on fire since starting and will dual with Tanner Mangum, who is coming off a pretty good game himself. Side note: I love midseason non-conference games. That needs to happen more often and I should have mentioned it about Memphis too. It’s a break from that conference grind and if the right game is scheduled, can be a high-profile boost for the AAC.
This week: at BYU on Fri., Oct. 16 at 7 pm CT on ESPN
6. East Carolina Pirates (3-3, AAC: 1-1; LW: 6)
Last week: lost to BYU 45-38
Even though ECU battled back from down 17 to tie the game with four minutes remaining, the Pirates lost on the road to BYU with 19 seconds left. The Pirates allowed Tanner Mangum to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns while Algernon Brown racked up over 130 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The bright spot was another solid game from Blake Kemp, who threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns, but the defense couldn’t keep the game from going to overtime or get the ball back for the offense. ECU gets to face a less formidable defense this week with a home game after their long trip against Tulsa.
This week: hosts Tulsa on Sat., Oct. 17 at 11 am CT on ESPNews
7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-2, AAC: 0-1; LW 7)
Last week: beat Louisiana Monroe 34-24
Tulsa rallied from a 24-20 deficit entering the fourth quarter before Dane Evans threw a fourth quarter touchdown and Zack Langer ran in the final score of the game to win — both scores coming off LMU turnovers. The Warhawks have dealt with serious adversity as of late following the sudden death of walk-on quarterback Daniel Fitzwater, but couldn’t finish the upset. Evans continues to rack up the yards, throwing for 341 yards and two touchdowns. With three missed field goals and a couple drives ending with turnover on downs, Tulsa had opportunities to make this less of a game, but couldn’t take advantage. They have a tough road game against a surging Pirates, who are coming off a tough loss at BYU.
This week: at ECU on Sat., Oct. 17 at 11 am CT on ESPNews
8. Connecticut Huskies (3-3, AAC: 1-1; LW: 10)
Last week: beat UCF 40-13
Connecticut had a big end to the first half with two scores in the last minute and Bryant Shirreffs had his fourth 200-yard passing game in his first six starts. While Shirreffs was sacked five times, UCF turnovers resulted in three scoring drives that started within the UCF 35. UConn dominated time of possession — 38:04 to 21:56. While Connecticut managed just 3.8 yards per carry, the Huskies dominated defensively, forcing UCF to go 2-of-12 on third down and four turnovers. If UConn can force those type of turnovers and keep Marlon Mack in check this week, they’ll justify my faith in them to jump SMU and USF.
This week: hosts USF on Sat., Oct. 17 at 11 am CT on ESPNU
9. South Florida Bulls (2-3, AAC: 0-1; LW: 9)
Last week: beat Syracuse 45-24
USF got a big win for Willie Taggart at home by beating the Orangemen with Marlon Mack’s 184 yards and two touchdowns. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and while it wasn’t an AAC game, Taggart got a win over a power five program he desperately needed. Quentin Flowers also took a step forward in his development, throwing for 253 yards and two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. USF jumped out to an early lead of 24-3 and will have to have a similar start at Connecticut this weekend.
This week: at Connecticut on Sat., Oct. 17 at 11 am CT on ESPNU
10. SMU Mustangs (1-5, AAC: 0-1; LW: 8)
Last week: lost to Houston 49-28
SMU managed to fumble a chance to upset Houston on the road Thursday night. While SMU might not have won anyway, key fumbles by the Mustangs allowed Houston to quickly regain the lead and never look back. Matt Davis was blindsided and fumbled, setting up great field position for the Cougars and Braeden West also fumbled. It was more physical mistakes that killed the Mustangs offensively, but the fight was certainly there in this year’s rivalry matchup. If Thursday was an indication, as long as Herman and Morris are roaming the sidelines, this will be a heated, great matchup each year.
This week: OFF
11. Tulane Green Wave (2-3, AAC: 1-1; LW: 11)
Last week: lost to Temple 49-10
Tulane had a rough day facing Temple this past weekend. The Green Wave finished with 110 total yards, eight first downs, had plenty of penalties and threw two interceptions. As the Green Wave really gets into the AAC schedule, we’ll find out what they’re made of, but as of now, it looks like Tulane will be where I expected them — at the bottom of the AAC. It might be time for Tulane to also look for a new quarterback. Lee has struggled to get much going all season.
This week: hosts Houston on Fri., Oct. 16 at 8 pm CT on ESPNU
12. UCF Golden Knights (0-6, AAC: 0-2; LW: 12)
Last week: lost to Connecticut 40-13
UCF needs to take a deep, hard look at themselves following their blowout loss to Connecticut. UCF fell asleep at the end of the first half with UConn scoring twice in the final 57 seconds to turn a 9-3 lead into a 23-3 advantage. Justin Holman returned after breaking his finger against Stanford to be picked off three times while he only got 60 yards of support from the running game. UCF even managed to force themselves into a safety, taking a step out of the end zone before returning to take a knee, which gave UConn a 9-3 lead. That’s the story of their season and it won’t get better as they head to Philly this weekend.
This week: at Temple on Sat., Oct. 17 at 6:30 pm CT