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AAC Power Rankings, Week 1

Quarterback Quinton Flowers and the Bulls are No. 2 in the inaugural American Athletic Conference power rankings.


Quarterback Quinton Flowers and the Bulls are No. 2 in the inaugural American Athletic Conference power rankings.



This season, reporters from every American Athletic Conference team are joining forces to compile weekly conference power rankings, with a sentence or two of analysis on each team. Here are the Week 1 rankings (Correspondent Jeff Odom votes for the Tampa Bay Times).

1. Houston (1-0): With its 33-23 shocker over Oklahoma, the Cougars made arguably the loudest statement of the opening weekend that they are serious contenders to become the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff. The win catapulted UH to No. 6 in the Associated Press’ poll, the school's highest ranking in 25 years. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is nursing a shoulder injury and likely won't play much Saturday against Football Championship Subdivision school Lamar in what amounts to a tune-up for the Sept. 15 conference-opener at Cincinnati. -- Joseph Duarte, The Houston Chronicle

2. South Florida (1-0): Entering a season of high expectations, the Bulls picked up where they left off in 2015, opening with a 56-20 rout of Towson. Though USF was slow out of the gate with some early hiccups, including an erratic start by junior quarterback Quinton Flowers and a hit that knocked star tailback Marlon Mack out of the game in the second quarter, it eventually settled down to cruise in the second half. The first true test for the Bulls will come Saturday night when they welcome Northern Illinois to Tampa. -- Jeff Odom, Tampa Bay Times

3. Navy (1-0): Navy's offense looked in midseason form, rolling up 550 total yards in a 52-16 rout of Fordham, an FCS school. It was a costly win for the Midshipmen as starting quarterback Tago Smith suffered a knee season-ending knee injury. Smith had performed extremely well in the first quarter, rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns while completing a 45-yard pass to set up another score. Smith got hurt early in the second quarter when his knee buckled as he planted at the end of a 22-yard run. Junior fullback Chris High made his first career start a memorable one, rushing for 176 yards and two touchdowns. High showed breakaway speed on a 70-yard scoring scamper. Navy's defense showed some leaks, allowing Fordham to amass 464 total yards. However, the Mids stiffened in the red zone, forcing a pair of field goals and two turnovers on downs. Will Worth will start at quarterback in the AAC opener against Connecticut in Annapolis. -- Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

4. Cincinnati (1-0): The Bearcats did not lead until 2:42 remained in the third quarter, but they rallied for a 28-7 win over UT Martin in the opener. The UC defense shut out UT Martin after the game’s first drive, and Hayden Moore threw for 260 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. UC this week visits Purdue. The Bearcats have not beaten a current Big Ten team on the road since 1957 (Indiana), going 0-11 since. -- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

5. Memphis (1-0): With a 35-17 win over SEMO last week, Mike Norvell became the first Tigers coach to win his debut since Rey Dempsey in 1984. Yes, it was against an FCS team. And yes, Memphis needs to bolster its running game and take better care of the ball moving forward. But a win is a win, and the Tigers were happy to get one here heading into their bye week, with a Sept. 17 meeting against Kansas to follow. -- Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal

6. Tulsa (1-0): The Golden Hurricane opened Year 2 under Philip Montgomery with a resounding 45-10 victory against San Jose State in which it racked up 305 rushing yards, the most since 2012, and didn't allow a touchdown after the first 10 minutes despite playing reserves for the entire fourth quarter. Most impressive were signs of defensive improvement, with Tulsa swarming to the ball much more quickly than it did a year ago and tackling significantly better. This week brings a tougher task, a visit to No. 4 Ohio State in front of what will be the largest crowd on hand for a game in Hurricane history. -- Kelly Hines, The Tulsa World

7. East Carolina (1-0): With their toughest stretch of the season immediately in front of them, the Pirates will take on N.C. State this week following a 688-yard onslaught in a 52-7 shelling of FCS opponent Western Carolina last week. Scottie Montgomery became the third straight ECU head coach to debut with a win, joining Ruffin McNeill and Skip Holtz. ECU plays Power Five opponents each of the next three weeks, two of them on the road. -- Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector

8. Temple (0-1): The Owls were more than two-touchdown favorites but lost at home to Army 28-13 on Friday night. The Owls couldn't handle the Army triple option, allowing 329 rushing yards (4.9 avg.) Army attempted only five passes. Temple coach Matt Rhule said what disappointed him the most was that his team didn't show toughness. Quarterback Phillip Walker, who was intercepted eight times in 14 games last year, threw three interceptions. Now the Owls gear up for FCS school Stony Brook, which is coming off a 13-9 win over then-No. 19 North Dakota. For the second straight week Temple will be without all-AAC running back Jahad Thomas, who has a dislocated thumb. This is a must-win for Temple, which would face a daunting task if it takes an 0-2 record into next Saturday's game at Penn State. -- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

9. Connecticut (1-0): UConn struggled for much of its opener and trailed Maine at home with just under 10 minutes remaining before rallying for a 24-21 victory. Bobby Puyols kicked the winning 37-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining. Overall, it was a not a great look for the Huskies, who play Saturday at Navy in the AAC opener for both teams. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs ran a team-high 20 times against Maine (not the plan) and the backfield of Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson had only 36 yards combined in the first half. Defensively, UConn's secondary was torched by Maine's Jaleel Reed. The Huskies finished strong but came away with a lot to work on in the eight days between games. -- Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant

10. Central Florida (1-0): The Knights snapped a 639-day victory fast with a 38-0 stomping of FCS South Carolina State. Sophomore kicker Matt Wright tied an all-time single game record by converting four field goals in the first half. UCF answered questions about its defense and special teams but left a few questions on the field about its young offense, which needed to rely largely on field goals to score in the first half. -- Shannon Green, Orlando Sentinel

11. SMU (1-0): SMU notched its first season-opening win since 2003 with a 34-21 victory against North Texas. The Mustangs had a number of opportunities to pull away but did not. Still, it was a positive performance for a team that mustered only two wins a year ago. SMU should be much improved this season and will undergo a major test this weekend as it squares off against Baylor. -- EJ Holland, The Dallas Morning News

12. Tulane (0-1): Tulane coach Willie Fritz's unveiling of his new offense turned out to be mostly a disappointment in his team's season-opening 7-3 loss to Wake Forest, but there were some positives the Green Wave could take away. New starting QB Glen Cuiellette appeared comfortable in his first start and the Tulane defense was dominant on the road. The Green Wave hopes the offense can find its way Saturday against Southern in the home opener at Yulman Stadium. -- Will Guillory, The Times-Picayune

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2016 9:11am]


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