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AAC power rankings, Week 13

USF tailback D'Ernest Johnson fights for yardage in the fourth quarter of the Bulls' 48-31 victory against UCF.

CHARLIE KAIJO | Times

USF tailback D'Ernest Johnson fights for yardage in the fourth quarter of the Bulls' 48-31 victory against UCF.

30

November

Six of the 12 teams in the American Athletic Conference won at least eight games during the regular season, but only two could reach Saturday's AAC title game Saturday: Navy and Temple. The Midshipmen will have home-field advantage and try to make one final push for the Group of Five's guaranteed spot in a New Year's Six Bowl, while Temple will try to atone for its loss to Houston in last year's championship game.

Here's a look at the final conference power rankings of the season, as compiled by a league-wide panel of beat reporters. (Note: Only 11 votes were cast in this week's rankings.)

1. USF (10-2, 7-1 AAC): The Bulls capped the best regular season in program history with a 48-31 victory against rival UCF, earning their first national ranking (No. 24) since September 2011. Junior QB Quinton Flowers and TB Marlon Mack scored a pair of touchdowns, extending the team's nation-leading streak of 30-plus-point games to 16, dating to last season. Though USF won't be playing for its first AAC title, it is on track for a solid postseason spot with the Birmingham Bowl and Military Bowl the favorites among possible destinations. — Jeff Odom, Tampa Bay Times

2. Navy (9-2, 7-1): The Midshipmen remained on an epic offensive roll Saturday afternoon in Dallas. Navy amassed a season-high 496 rushing yards and 600 total yards in a 75-31 destruction of SMU. QB Will Worth continues to operate the offense at a high level while putting up impressive numbers himself; he rushed for 107 yards and three TDs, and passed for 104 yards and a score. He is the first quarterback in Navy history to surpass 100 yards rushing and passing in three consecutive games.  — Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

3. Temple (9-3, 7-1): The Owls earned their second consecutive trip to the AAC title game with Saturday's 37-10 win against East Carolina. Most notable was that Temple was not penalized in the game. Owls leading receiver Ventell Bryant (38 receptions, 697 yards, three TDs) is questionable for Saturday's championship game at Navy with a shoulder injury. In Saturday's win, Phillip Walker became the first Temple quarterback to throw for 10,000 career yards. Temple will take a six-game winning streak into Saturday's championship game. — Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

4. Houston (9-3, 5-3): The Tom Herman speculation finally has ended. Hours after a 48-44 loss at Memphis, Herman met with Texas officials and agreed to become the Longhorns’ next coach. Herman went 22-4 in two seasons, and without question left the program in better shape that when he arrived with an AAC championship, New Year’s Six bowl and several marquee top-10 victories. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will serve as interim coach for the Cougars’ bowl game and, with offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, will be considered for the permanent job. — Joseph Duarte, The Houston Chronicle

5. Tulsa (9-3, 6-2): For a third time this season, Tulsa prevailed in overtime, topping Cincinnati 40-37. Three early turnovers Friday night against the Bearcats led to a 17-point deficit, but the offensive line helped deliver an eighth outing of at least 300 rushing yards, including 197 by James Flanders, who set the program record for single-season rushing yards (1,529). — Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

6. Memphis (8-4, 5-3): The Tigers saved their most impressive win of the regular season for the final week, edging then-No. 21 Houston, 48-44, on a 10-yard TD pass from Riley Ferguson to Anthony Miller with 19 seconds remaining. The victory gave Memphis a third consecutive season with eight wins or more, exceeding expectations in Coach Mike Norvell’s first year. The Tigers now await their bowl assignment, with the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 20 a strong possibility. — Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal

7. UCF (6-6, 4-4): The Knights finished the season with losses to the lethal offenses from Tulsa and USF. UCF struggled to its second-lowest rushing performance (64 yards) against the Bulls on the road Saturday in a 48-31 loss. Despite the disappointment, UCF will advance to a bowl game after going 0-12 last season. — Shannon Green, Orlando Sentinel

8. SMU (5-7, 3-5): SMU had two opportunities to earn bowl eligibility but couldn't pull upsets against USF and Navy. With Chad Morris-to-Baylor rumors creating a distraction (his talks with Baylor ultimately fell through), SMU folded against Navy in an embarrassing 75-31 loss. SMU was outplayed and outcoached as it gave up 600 yards and failed to get anything going on offense in the second half. The good news for SMU is that most of its depth chart featured freshmen and sophomores. The Mustangs will be young and talented next year and have a chance to be a threat in the AAC. — EJ Holland, Dallas Morning News

9. Cincinnati (4-8, 1-7): The Bearcats offense suddenly erupted in the regular season finale, but UC still lost 40-37 at Tulsa in overtime. The Bearcats had totaled only 26 points in their previous four games. The big question now is whether coach Tommy Tuberville returns for a fifth season. UC has gone 9-4, 9-4, 7-6 and now 4-8 under Tuberville, who said he has no intention of leaving, if the “higher-ups” still want him. UC athletic director Mike Bohn still has not commented on whether Tuberville will return. — Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

10. East Carolina (3-9, 1-7): With seven catches in a 37-10 loss to Temple, Pirates WR Zay Jones set an NCAA single-season receptions, finishing with 158 catches for 1,746 yards and eight TDs. After starting the season 2-0, the Pirates lost nine of their final 10 games, including four in a row to end the season. — Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal

11. Tulane (4-8, 1-7): Tulane found a way to close the 2016 season on a high note with Saturday’s 38-13 win against UConn to end a six-game losing streak and give Green Wave first-year coach Willie Fritz his first conference win. The 38 points was the most Tulane scored since its Oct. 1 win against Louisiana-Lafayette, and Fritz is hoping to build off the team’s final win of the season as he heads into his second year. — Will Guillory, The Times-Picayune

12. Connecticut (3-9, 1-7): The Huskies were on the wrong end of some of the most lopsided play in recent college football history down the stretch. UConn lost its final six games, was outscored 130-16 over the final four, and finished with the worst offense in the nation (14.8 ppg). The final insult came Saturday, a 38-13 loss at home to Tulane. Bob Diaco, 11-26 through three seasons, is expected back as coach but the staff likely will feature a new offensive coordinator and several changes. — Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 10:07am]

    

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