Last week was kind of hectic with the firing so I opted not to run the AAC Roundup. Also, with the start of conference play I think it makes more sense to do a Power Ranking. We've seen these teams play about 4 non-conference games each and most have played one conference game so it’s a good a time as any to see how things are shaping up in this brand new conference.
1. Louisville (5-0, 1-0)
Ranked 7th in the nation, the only ranked team in The American, it should come as no surprise to see Louisville on top of these rankings. At 5-0 coming off a convincing win against Temple, Louisville has two games coming up where they could potentially relinquish the top spot. They host Rutgers this Thursday and UCF the following Friday, if they can make it through those two games, it should be smooth sailing until the season finale at Cincinnati.
2. UCF (4-1, 1-0)
The UCF Knights take the second spot on the strength of a win at Penn State and taking #12 South Carolina to the wire two weeks ago. If they could have held on for that win you could argue for them over Louisville in these rankings citing the Cardinals’ lack of a quality win. There is reason for suspicion after they needed two defensive touchdowns to beat Memphis when they were down 17-10. Make no mistake though, this is a very good football team.
They have a bye before next Friday’s match up at Louisville. Hopefully they take advantage of the extra time to prepare and we get to see a fun one next week.
3. Rutgers (4-1, 1-0)
The Scarlet Knights are 4-1 after beating Arkansas two games ago and surviving a 21 point fourth quarter by SMU to snatch victory after 3 overtimes in Dallas this past Saturday. Their lone loss was in the season opener to an explosive Fresno State squad in overtime and they’ll have a great opportunity to send a message against an untested Louisville team this Thursday.
4. Houston (4-0, 1-0)
They’re undefeated and notched a win in the **historic** first football game in American Athletic Conference history a few weeks ago. Years from now, the bards will sing of their 22-13 victory in week 2 of the 2013 NCAA Football season with the same reverence we give to Rutgers-Princeton in 1869.
Anyway, the Cougars have a soft spot in my heart because when I went to Houston for the 2011 Final Four I stayed with some very hospitable fraternity brothers at UH who showed me an excellent time and for that I am eternally grateful.
Unfortunately, the rest of their schedule is not very easy: BYU, Rutgers, UCF and Louisville are all tough ones, they could slide a few spots on this list by the end of the year.
5. Cincinnati (3-2, 0-1)
It has been a very difficult time for Bearcats nation. Two weeks ago, Redshirt Freshman Ben Flick passed away in a car accident where two other players were injured; one remains hospitalized. Despite hospital visits and having to attend a teammate’s funeral the show had to go on as the Bearcats took the field with heavy hearts this past Saturday. Our deepest condolences to everybody affected by this horrible tragedy.
Senior QB Brandon Kay will be the key to the Bearcats’ success though they shouldn't have too much trouble in the conference outside of Louisville and Rutgers. Their next three games (home vs. Temple and UConn then at Memphis) are eminently winnable, and if all goes well this could be an 8 or 9 win team.
6. SMU (1-4, 0-1)
Dag-gummit this Mustangs team is fun to watch. I had the pleasure of catching the second half of the Rutgers-SMU match-up and saw an incredible fourth quarter comeback that eventually fell short in Overtime. One thing that stood out to me was how empty the stadium was… I wonder how many high school games in Texas had higher attendance that weekend.
Right now the Mustangs are 1-4, but with the aforementioned Rutgers game and losses to TCU and Texas A&M who can really blame them. They have a good chance of winning their next five games (Memphis, Temple, Cinci, UConn, USF) before playing Houston and UCF to close out the season. They certainly face an uphill battle towards bowl eligibility, but I think they can do it.
7. Memphis (1-3, 0-1)
They’re pretty bad, so why are they seventh? Because others are worse... at least Memphis has a win.
8. USF (1-4, 1-0)
South Florida pulled off the impossible this past Saturday, snagging their first win by beating a pretty solid Cincinnati squad. Otherwise, losing to FCS McNeese State (badly) and Florida Atlantic would have put the Bulls squarely in last.
9. Connecticut (0-4, 0-0)
But we almost beat Michigan that one time!
In all honesty I think we’re better than USF and Memphis but it’s hard to argue with the results on the field (blowout loss to Buffalo... them?). With an interim head coach and a true-freshman starting at Quarterback, at least we know things will be different, though we’re not sure if that will mean better. At this point, the only way to go is up though, right? Please?
10. Temple (0-5, 0-2)
Losses to Fordham and Idaho in back to back weeks are good enough to earn last place for the Temple Owls in our first ever power ranking. USF was primed to take this spot but messed that up by winning this past Saturday. UConn probably deserves this spot but after firing Pasqualoni and GDL, one has to believe we've gotten better.
Also, TEMPLE SUCKS YOU GUYS ARE GOING DOWN NOVEMBER 23RD YA HEAR!!
So in summation, the conference has one team which appears to be miles above the rest, though we can’t be sure because they've yet to play a tough opponent. Then we have two pretty solid teams, three mediocre to decent teams, and four crappy teams. I feel pretty confident that the top five from this list will find themselves in a bowl game at the end of the year and SMU could make it six, but that’s probably the ceiling.
Game of the Week:
This Thursday Rutgers will play at Louisville on ESPN. Everybody seems to believe Louisville is going to dominate this conference and easily take the AQ BCS bid. While I’m inclined to agree, wins against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky, Florida International and Temple don’t do much to inspire confidence and this will be their first true test of the season. Rutgers is good, but the #7 team in the country should be able to handle them. I think Rutgers gives them a run for their money but the Cardinals still pull out the win.
If Louisville does look vulnerable, it bodes well for anyone else looking to make the upset bid. Hey, UConn beat 'em last year, anything can happen.