Bulls move up in AAC power rankings

Three conference teams earned win against Power Five opposition last weekend
OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle (54) celebrates with teammates after getting an interception against Georgia Tech at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, September 8, 2018.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle (54) celebrates with teammates after getting an interception against Georgia Tech at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, September 8, 2018.
Published Sept. 13, 2018

The American Athletic Conference is coming off a banner weekend with three wins against Power Five opponents.

In addition to USF's come-from-behind triumph against Georgia Tech (ACC), Houston trounced Arizona (Pac-12) and Heisman Trophy hopeful Khalil Tate, and East Carolina got a much-needed win against in-state rival North Carolina (ACC).

In AAC play, Navy seized early control in the West division with a 22-21 win over Memphis.

Below are the weekly power rankings, as determined by beat writers for every AAC team.

1. UCF
Previous ranking: 1
Points: 143
Record: 2-0 (1-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated South Carolina State, 38-0
This week: Bye
Trajectory: Surging. UCF endured a shaky outing by QB McKenzie Milton as Adrian Killins scored two touchdowns and the defense forced three turnovers en route to extending the nation's longest win streak to 15. Milton threw three interceptions for the first time since tossing three against Memphis in the AAC title game on Dec. 2.
Did you know? UCF's game at North Carolina Saturday was canceled due to the potential impact of Hurricane Florence on the East Coast.
— Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

2. Houston
Previous ranking: 3
Points: 130
Record: 2-0 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Arizona, 45-18
This week: at Texas Tech
Trajectory: Surging. Houston's offense continued to roll, posting 45 points for the second consecutive game, but it was the defense that was on display in a blowout of Arizona. The Cougars, behind All-America DT Ed Oliver, held the Wildcats and Khalil Tate to 184 total yards in the first half and kept them scoreless until late in the third quarter.
Did you know? QB D'Eriq King leads the nation in points responsible per game (31).
— Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

3. USF
Previous ranking: 4
Points: 124
Record: 2-0 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Georgia Tech, 49-38
This week: vs. Illinois (in Chicago)
Trajectory: Surging. The Bulls, who received three votes in the most recent AP poll, are seeking their seventh win in their last eight games against Power Five opposition. Buoyed by more diverse play-calling (i.e. jet sweeps, toss sweeps, screen passes), USF is averaging 470.5 yards per game.
Did you know? USF, which ranked second nationally with 20 interceptions last season, already has four this year.
— Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times

4. Navy
Previous ranking: 6
Points: 103
Record: 1-1 (1-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Memphis, 22-21
This week: vs. Lehigh
Trajectory: Surging. Navy announced itself as a legitimate contender in the AAC by upsetting the defending West Division champs. S Sean Williams forced two fumbles to lead a hard-hitting defense that limited the Tigers to 378 total yards.
Did you know? Navy trailed Memphis 21-9 entering the fourth quarter. It was the first time the Midshipmen came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter since 2008, when it was down 17-7 to Temple before rallying to win.
— Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

5. Cincinnati
Previous ranking: 5
Points: 95
Record: 2-0 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Miami (Ohio), 21-0
This week: vs. Alabama A&M
Trajectory: Surging. After being one of the AAC's worst defensive teams a year ago, the Bearcats rank seventh nationally in scoring defense (8.5 ppg) and are allowing only 252 yards per game. Redshirt freshman QB Desmond Ridder made his first career start against Miami (Ohio) and appears to have seized the job from senior Hayden Moore, although coach Luke Fickell has yet to make a formal announcement.
Did you know? The Bearcats are the last team in the AAC to play a true home game this season.
— Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

6. Memphis
Previous ranking: 2
Points: 93
Record: 1-1 (0-1 in AAC)
Last week: lost at Navy, 22-21
This week: vs. Georgia State
Trajectory: Skidding. Darrell Henderson rushed for a career-best 212 rushing yards and three TDs on 13 carries, but four turnovers doomed Memphis' offense in a rain-soaked loss.
Did you know? Henderson leads all Division I players, averaging 13.09 yards per carry.
— Evan Barnes, The Commercial Appeal

7. Tulsa
Previous ranking: 8
Points: 64
Record: 1-1 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: lost at Texas, 28-21
This week: vs. Arkansas State
Trajectory: Steady. A dreadful start against the Longhorns put Tulsa in a 21-0 hole, but the Hurricane came alive in the second half, scoring on its 10th possession and relying on a stellar defensive effort to make the closing minutes interesting. If not for three missed field goals, the outcome might have been different.
Did you know? Tulsa's streak of 16 consecutive games with a 100-yard rusher was snapped at Texas.
— Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

8. Tulane
Previous ranking: 7
Points: 63
Record: 1-1 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Nicholls State, 42-17
This week: at UAB
Trajectory: Surging. Tulane dominated Nicholls a week after the Colonels won at Kansas. Texas Tech transfer RB Corey Dauphine scored from 38 and 69 yards on his first two touches. The Green Wave is favored by four at UAB in a tricky game the week before a trip to Ohio State.
Did you know? Wideouts Terren Encalade and Darnell Mooney have combined for 905 receiving yards in the last four games, dating to the end of 2017.
— Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

9. East Carolina
Previous ranking: 12
Points: 50
Record: 1-1 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated North Carolina, 41-19
This week: Bye
Trajectory: Steady. Beating North Carolina was huge for the Pirates (who committed no turnovers) and Coach Scottie Montgomery. It was especially big for team confidence, which will be something to watch during the coming weeks with challenging road games.
Did you know? ECU has announced it won't travel to this week's game at virginia Tech due to the potential impact of Hurricane Florence on the East Coast.
— Ronnie Woodward, Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector

10. SMU
Previous ranking: 10
Points: 35
Record: 0-2 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: lost to TCU, 42-12
This week: at No. 19 Michigan
Trajectory: Struggling. The first half of SMU's rivalry game against TCU looked promising — the Mustangs jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and looked like they had put their 23-point loss to North Texas behind them. But TCU scored 42 of the game's final 45 points to cruise to victory.
Did you know? SMU will take its first trip to Ann Arbor in 50-plus years on Saturday
— Scott Bell, Dallas Morning News

11. Temple
Previous ranking: 9
Points: 28
Record: 0-2 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: lost to Buffalo, 36-29
This week: at Maryland
Trajectory: Skidding. Temple has continued to get inconsistent play at quarterback. Frank Nutile, who looked so strong going 4-2 when he inherited the job last year, has thrown four interceptions in the first two games. The defense is allowing an average of 416 total yards per game. Against Buffalo, the Owls had no sacks against Tyree Jackson, who attempted 45 passes.
Did you know? Temple, which lost its opener to Villanova, has now lost back-to-back non-conference games to start a season for the first time since 2009 when the Owls started the season with losses to Villanova and Penn State.
— Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News

12. Connecticut
Previous ranking: 11
Points: 12
Record: 0-2 (0-1 in AAC)
Last week: lost to Boise State, 62-7
This week: vs. Rhode Island
Trajectory: Skidding. What's worse than losing by 39 in your opening game? How about losing by 55 in the follow-up. UConn's starting defense against Boise State featured seven freshmen and four sophomores, and the results were ugly, as the Broncos put up a program record 818 total yards of offense.
Did you know? UConn is 15-1 against I-AA opponents since joining Division I, but has not secured a double-digit win in one of those games since 2012.
— Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant