AAC power rankings, Week 12
It’s the final week of the regular season, and the matchup in the American Athletic Conference championship game is nearly set. Navy clinched the West Division with a win against East Carolina last week, and Temple must defeat the Pirates this weekend to lock up the East.
With the title game looming, here's a look at this week's AAC power rankings, as voted upon by a league-wide panel of beat reporters.
1. USF (9-2, 6-1 AAC): Behind another sharp performance from QB Quinton Flowers, the Bulls held on for a 35-27 victory at SMU, tying the program's record for wins in a season. Flowers threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns — hitting Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 77-yard score on the game's first play — and added 142 on the ground. USF must win Saturday's regular season finale against rival UCF and hope Temple stumbles against East Carolina to clinch the East and a spot in the AAC Championship Game, which the Bulls would host Dec. 3. -- Jeff Odom, Tampa Bay Times
2. Temple (8-3, 6-1): The Owls clinch a second consecutive East Division title with either a win at home against East Carolina or a loss by USF to UCF. In last week's 31-0 win at Tulane, QB Phillip Walker finished 18-of-33 for 337 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. The Owls played without leading rusher Ryquell Armstead, whom coaches said was available but not 100 percent. Armstead (807 yards rushing, 11 TDs) is questionable this week. Redshirt senior DE Haason Reddick had two tackles for loss against Tulane, giving him an AAC single-season record 20 this season. Temple has recorded consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2011. -- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer
t-3. Houston (9-2, 5-2): The Cougars entered the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time this season at No. 20, a small consolation for a program that will be playing in a lower-tier bowl (likely Military, Birmingham or St. Petersburg) despite top-five wins against Oklahoma and Louisville. If there has been a silver lining, it has been the emergence of true freshman DT Ed Oliver (five sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss), trying to become the first Houston freshman named first-team All-America. Fox Sports had Oliver among the top five Heisman Trophy candidates this week. -- Joseph Duarte, The Houston Chronicle
t- 3. Navy (8-2, 6-1): Navy clinched the West crown with a 66-31 rout at East Carolina on Saturday. Trailing 17-7 five minutes into the second quarter, the Midshipmen scored 38 unanswered points to take control. QB Will Worth was the catalyst again, rushing for 159 yards and four TDs while passing for another 113 yards. FB Shawn White contributed a career-high 150 yards and two TDs. Navy likely hosts the AAC championship game if it beats SMU in Dallas on Saturday and Temple tops ECU. -- Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group
5. Tulsa (8-3, 5-2): After its goal of winning a conference championship slipped away the previous week, the Golden Hurricane avoided another letdown and prevailed 35-20 at UCF on Saturday. The game was tied at halftime, but Tulsa relied on its dominant ground attack to pull away, setting a school record with a seventh game of at least 300 rushing yards this season. Friday night's home game against free-falling Cincinnati will be the last at H.A. Chapman Stadium for 19 seniors including QB Dane Evans, the top passer in program history. -- Kelly Hines, Tulsa World
6. Memphis (7-4, 4-3): The bad news for the Tigers? QB Riley Ferguson left last week’s game against Cincinnati after only two offensive drives with an undisclosed injury. The good news? Memphis cruised to a win anyway, as backup Jason Stewart threw two TD passes in a 34-7 victory. The question entering Friday’s game against Houston is whether Ferguson will be able to return. He has practiced this week and made progress from Monday to Tuesday, Coach Mike Norvell said, but Memphis will wait to evaluate his health Friday before making a final determination. -- Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal
7. UCF (6-5, 4-3): After carrying an inexperienced offense for weeks, UCF’s defense finally sputtered against Tulsa’s dynamic rushing tandem of James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer, who combined for 330 rushing yards. UCF turned in its worst offensive performance of the season, scoring its first offensive TD in the fourth quarter behind a 3-yard run from freshman Adrian Killins. The loss snapped a two-game win streak for UCF, which had defeated Tulane and Cincinnati at home. -- Shannon Green, Orlando Sentinel
8. SMU (5-6, 3-4): SMU played a gritty game against one of the best teams in the AAC, but fell just short in a 35-27 loss to USF. The Mustangs outgained USF, 578-473, made more first downs and forced a couple of turnovers. However, SMU had three turnovers of its own and missed a couple of key opportunities. SMU now needs to pull off an upset against Navy this weekend to earn bowl eligibility and keep its season alive. -- EJ Holland, Dallas Morning News
9. Cincinnati (4-7, 1-6): The Bearcats, losers of four in a row, have scored seven or fewer points three consecutive home games for the first time since 1989. The Bearcats again will be the underdog at Tulsa on Friday as UC completes its worst season since going 4-8 in 2010. Coach Tommy Tuberville is under fire, but UC athletic director Mike Bohn has not commented on whether Tuberville will return next season. Tuberville has a contract through 2019, with a buyout of $2.4 million if he is fired before Dec. 7, 2016. The payment would be $1.5 million if he is fired before Dec. 7, 2017. -- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer
10. East Carolina (3-8, 1-6): East Carolina took another step toward the end of a long season in Saturday's 66-31 loss to Navy. Having now lost eight of their last nine under first-year coach Scottie Montgomery, the Pirates can only play for pride this week against East Division leader Temple in Philadelphia. Although it will be the final game for 19 seniors, Montgomery said some lineup changes are possible and that sophomore QB Gardner Minshew likely will make his second consecutive start in place of senior Philip Nelson. -- Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector
11. Connecticut (3-8, 1-6): The Huskies were clobbered at Boston College, 30-0, setting program Division I-record lows for total offense (121 yards) and rushing yards (minus-6). UConn, which owns the worst offense in the nation (15.0 ppg), has been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since 1977. Opponents have scored 85 unanswered points and the Huskies have been outscored 109-3 over the past 14-plus quarters. New QB Donovan Williams and new offensive coordinator David Corley have been in place for two games, and UConn doesn't have a single point to show for it. -- Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant
12. Tulane (3-8, 0-7): In a season full of sluggish showings on offense, Tulane registered maybe its worst performance of the season in last week’s 31-0 loss to Temple. The Green Wave managed only 142 yards of total offense and eight first downs the entire day. Tulane closes the season Saturday at UConn. -- Will Guillory, The Times-Picayune