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American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

A 1-12 ranking of the American Athletic Conference teams, as voted on by league beat reporters.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) can set two more major school offensive records Friday at UCF. (Brad Horrigan | Hartford Courant)
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) can set two more major school offensive records Friday at UCF. (Brad Horrigan | Hartford Courant)
Published Nov. 22, 2017

Memphis has locked down the West Division.

All that's left is to settle the East with Friday's "War on I-4" between UCF and USF.

USF has won six of the eight meetings in the rivalry, but the stakes never have been greater. The winner advances to play Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game, where a spot in a New Year's Six bowl likely will be on the line.

Elsewhere, Tulane is seeking bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013, and for the first time since Week 6, there's a new team at the bottom of the rankings.

Here's how the AAC stacks up this week, as voted upon by our league-wide panel of beat reporters.

1. UCF (10-0, 7-0 AAC): Any fear of overlooking Temple for Friday's showdown with USF was unfounded. The Knights caused five turnovers and QB McKenzie Milton went 16-of-23 for 208 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-19 romp. Milton was named the AAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week and OLB Shaquem Griffin was named to the AAC honor roll after recording three tackles, a forced fumble, a 22-yard interception return, a pass breakup and a tackle for loss. — Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

2. Memphis (9-1, 6-1): Officially the best in the AAC West after a 66-45 victory over SMU, the Tigers wrap up the regular season and celebrate Senior Day with an 11 a.m. Saturday kickoff against East Carolina. The Tigers have won at least nine games only eight times in school history, but three of those seasons have come in the last four years (2014, '15, '17). — John Varlas, Memphis Commercial Appeal

3. USF (9-1, 6-1): Bulls senior QB Quinton Flowers, already considered by many the greatest player in program history, can statistically cement that status Friday at UCF. Flowers needs only 96 yards to break Matt Grothe's career total yardage record (10,875), and 146 rushing yards to eclipse Marlon Mack's all-time rushing yardage mark (3,609). Toppling the Knights (and clinching USF's first division title ever) wouldn't harm Flowers' legacy either. — Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times

4. Navy (6-4, 4-3): The Midshipmen have lost four of their last five and are in danger of finishing the season on a serious slide. Navy closes its AAC campaign with a Friday matinee at Houston, then faces arch-rival Army (8-3) in the regular season finale on Dec. 9. The Midshipmen are trying to avoid a 1-5 finish that would leave them at .500 going into a bowl game. — Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

5. Houston (6-4, 4-3): Three of Houston's four losses this season have come by four or fewer points, the latest a 20-17 setback to Tulane. True freshman Davion Mitchell is expected to see an increased workload in Friday's game against Navy as running back depth is a concern, with Duke Catalon (shoulder) and Mulbah Car (ankle/knee) dealing with nagging injuries and Dillon Birden (elbow) out for the season. The current senior class has 36 wins and needs to win the final two games (which includes a bowl) to match the school record set by the 2016 class. — Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

6. SMU (6-5, 3-4): SMU's defense is reeling after a 66-45 loss to Memphis. The Mustangs have given up an average of 612.7 yards per game during their three-game losing streak to the Tigers, Navy and UCF. Against Memphis, SMU missed MLB Anthony Rhone, a senior starter who was out with a concussion. The Mustangs get one more chance to get back on track, against Tulane for Senior Day. — Adam Grosbard, Dallas Morning News

7. Tulane (5-6, 3-4): With a breakthrough 20-17 home upset of Houston, the Green Wave set up an incredibly meaningful game at SMU for a small but productive 12-player senior class that includes six defensive starters plus 1,000-yard RB Dontrell Hilliard. Seven of them were redshirted in 2013, when Tulane played in the New Orleans Bowl, but they never had won more than four games overall or two conference games as active players until this season. They would love to see all their hard work turn into a bowl game send-off, signaling the program's rise under second-year coach Willie Fritz. — Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

8. Temple (5-6, 3-4): Making his fourth consecutive start, QB Frank Nutile had his first poor showing during a 45-19 home loss to UCF on Senior Day. Nutile entered the game with three interceptions and threw four against the Knights. Coach Geoff Collins said Monday that Nutile was still taking the first-team reps. Shining in defeat was redshirt senior DL Jullian Taylor, who had 4.5 sacks. Temple needs to win Saturday at Tulsa to become bowl-eligible for a fourth consecutive season. — Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

9. East Carolina (3-8, 2-5): The Pirates have trended slightly upward at season's end, culminating in Saturday's 48-20 win over fading Cincinnati. It was a record day for junior WR Trevon Brown, whose 270 yards were both a school and an AAC record. The win came on the heels of one of the team's few close games this season, an overtime loss to Tulane. The victory celebration could be dampened this week, however, when the Pirates finish the season at No. 17 Memphis. –- Nathan Summers, The (Greenville, N.C.) Daily Reflector

10. Connecticut (3-8, 2-5): The Huskies have lost four in a row for the second time this season. They will finish with a losing record for the seventh consecutive year, since playing in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2010 season (Randy Edsall's finale before taking the Maryland job). UConn can eclipse its 2016 victory total by winning its season finale at Cincinnati. — Mike Anthony, Hartford Courant

11. Tulsa (2-9, 1-6): Falling 27-20 at USF on Thursday night ensured the Hurricane will finish in last place in the West Division after having been picked fourth by league media in the preseason. In each of its previous three seasons in the AAC, Tulsa overachieved its preseason projection by two spots. A disappointing campaign that included an 0-6 record in road games ends at home against Temple on Saturday afternoon. — Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

12. Cincinnati (3-8, 1-6): The league's worst offense was trumped by the nation's worst defense, as the Bearcats dropped an embarrassing 48-20 decision at East Carolina. UC finishes the year at home against UConn, trying to avoid the program's worst record since a 2-9 season in 1998. — Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer


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