USF up to No. 2 in AAC power rankings

Temple makes the biggest jump (four spots) after its victory against Maryland
USF's Blake Barnett makes a pass against Illinois during the first half of Saturday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago. He finished with 411 passing yards. (AP Photo/Jim Young) ILJY107
USF's Blake Barnett makes a pass against Illinois during the first half of Saturday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago. He finished with 411 passing yards. (AP Photo/Jim Young) ILJY107
Published Sept. 20, 2018

Three schools remain unbeaten, led by UCF, which moved up to No. 16 in the Associated Press poll. USF beat a Power Five opponent for the second week in a row and Cincinnati is off to its best start since 2012. The biggest jump this week comes from Temple, which moved up four spots after a 21-point win against Maryland.

1. UCF
Previous ranking: 1
Points: 143
Record: 2-0 (1-0 in AAC)
Last week: Bye
This week: vs. FAU
Trajectory: Steady. UCF's non-conference road showdown with North Carolina was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. The Knights enter this week's game against FAU featuring the second-best offense in the country, averaging more than 600 yards and 47 points per game.
Did you know? UCF is tied for second in the AAC in turnover margin (plus-3) after forcing six takeaways.
— Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

2. USF
Previous ranking: 3
Points: 128
Record: 3-0 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Illinois, 25-17
This week: vs. East Carolina
Trajectory: Surging. For the second weekend in a row, the Bulls rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit against a Power Five foe. Saturday's comeback at Soldier Field offset one of the uglier performances of the 15-game Charlie Strong era (two interceptions, 14 penalties, two missed field goals).
Did you know? QB Blake Barnett has accounted for five fourth-quarter touchdowns (three pass, two run) in USF's last two games.
— Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times

3. Houston
Previous ranking: 2
Points: 114
Record: 2-1 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: Lost to Texas Tech, 63-49
This week: vs. Texas Southern
Trajectory: Skidding. The Cougars allowed 704 total yards (605 passing) and nine TDs in one of the worst defensive performances in school history. UH had 18 missed tackles that led to nearly 200 yards after contact. The Cougars currently rank 128th out of 129 FBS teams in pass defense (427.0 ypg) and 127th in total defense (558.0 ypg).
Did you know? The Cougars have scored at least 40 points in the first three games of a season for the first time.
— Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

4. Cincinnati
Previous ranking: 5
Points: 103
Record: 3-0 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Alabama A&M, 63-7
This week: vs. Ohio
Trajectory: Surging. UC raced to a 42-0 halftime lead last week and virtually emptied its bench. Desmond Ridder threw for 199 yards and three TDs in only one quarter, and UC eventually played four quarterbacks. True freshman RB Tavion Thomas rushed for 141 yards and two TDs. At 3-0, UC is one victory shy of last year's win total.
Did you know? The Bearcats just missed recording a second consecutive shutout, which the program last accomplished in 1953.
— Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

5. Navy
Previous ranking: 4
Points: 102
Record: 2-1 (1-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Lehigh, 51-21
This week: at SMU
Trajectory: Steady. Beating Lehigh by 30 points was nothing to get too excited about and the coaching staff was actually upset with some of the silly mistakes the Midshipmen made during the game. Navy is seeking to start 2-0 in the West.
Did you know? Malcolm Perry has rushed for 200 yards or more in three of his six career starts at quarterback. Perry has amassed 1,143 yards and 13 TDs in those six games.
— Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

6. Memphis
Previous ranking: 6
Points: 94
Record: 2-1 (0-1 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Georgia State, 59-22
This week: vs. South Alabama
Trajectory: Steady. Darrell Henderson had his second consecutive 200-yard effort with 233 rushing yards and two TDs against Georgia State. Brady White returned to form with five passing TDs, and Damonte Coxie broke out with six catches for 123 yards and two TDs. Bryce Huff led a strong defense with two sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Did you know? Memphis' defense has recorded a turnover in 19 consecutive games
— Evan Barnes, The Commercial Appeal

7. Temple
Previous ranking: 11
Points: 67
Record: 1-2 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Maryland, 35-14
This week: vs. Tulsa (Thursday)
Trajectory: Surging. Despite being a 14½-point underdog, the Owls controlled Maryland from the beginning, leading 21-7 at halftime. Temple finished with seven sacks, including two by DT Michael Dogbee, the AAC Defensive Player of the Week. QB Anthony Russo made his first start in place of Frank Nutile (undisclosed injury), finishing 15-for-25 for 228 yards, one TD and one interception.
Did you know? Temple has scored one special teams touchdown in each game. Last week QB Todd Centeio, the up-man in punt formation, threw a 36-yard scoring pass to Freddie Johnson.
— Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News

8. East Carolina
Previous ranking: 9
Points: 53
Record: 1-1 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: Bye
This week: at USF
Trajectory: Steady. The Pirates opened with a loss to an FCS team, then scored a big win against North Carolina before another ACC matchup (at Virginia Tech) was canceled due to Hurricane Florence.
Did you know? To avoid Florence's path, the Pirates have been in Orlando since Sept. 12.
— Ronnie Woodward, Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector

9. Tulane
Previous ranking: 8
Points: 51
Record: 1-2 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: lost to UAB, 31-24
This week: at Ohio State
Trajectory: Skidding. For the second time in three weeks, Tulane missed a chance to win a game in which it was outplayed, allowing a 93-yard tie-breaking TD drive after rallying from a 14-point deficit on the road. Jonathan Banks threw his first interception in 97 attempts, lost two fumbles and went 7-for-26 against the Blazers.
Did you know? Tulane is 1-2 for the fifth consecutive year. It finished with a losing record in each of the previous four.
— Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

10. Tulsa
Previous ranking: 7
Points: 43
Record: 1-2 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: lost to Arkansas State, 29-20
This week: at Temple (Thursday)
Trajectory: Skidding. For a third time in as many games, Tulsa failed to get going offensively until falling behind and attempting a second-half comeback. Against the top team in the Sun Belt Conference, the Hurricane mustered 15 yards in a combined five drives in the first half.
Did you know? Through three games, TU is 89th nationally in total offense (387.3 ypg).
— Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

11. SMU
Previous ranking: 10
Points: 24
Record: 0-3 (0-0 in AAC)
Last week: lost to No. 19 Michigan, 45-20
This week: vs. Navy
Trajectory: Skidding. Coach Sonny Dykes was non-committal on whether junior Ben Hicks or true freshman Will Brown will start at quarterback for the AAC opener. Hicks has struggled during the opening month, and Brown came off the bench to provide a spark against Michigan, finishing 11-for-17 for 82 yards and two TDs in the second half.
Did you know? The Mustangs are off to their first 0-3 start since losing the first 11 games during the 2014 season.
— Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

12. Connecticut
Previous ranking: 12
Points: 14
Record: 1-2 (0-1 in AAC)
Last week: defeated Rhode Island, 56-49
This week: at Syracuse
Trajectory: Steady. Most FBS teams would be worried after needing a late TD to beat an FCS team, but for UConn, beating Rhode Island felt like a good outcome. Defense will remain a problem all season, but if QB David Pindell plays like he did Saturday (308 passing, 137 rushing yards), the Huskies could at least have a shot in some conference games.
Did you know? UConn's defense ranks last in the FBS in both total defense (673.3 ypg) and scoring defense (55.7 ppg).
— Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant