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AAC Week 6 power rankings: Conference race wide open after Houston loss

Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire

Everything you’ve ever known to this point is a complete and utter lie.

Any and all playoff momentum was tossed to the wayside when Houston suffered a shocking upset loss at Navy over the weekend. The Cougars were gashed for over 300 yards rushing (4.9 yards per carry) and 14 plays of 10-plus yards. Three crucial turnovers from quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. not only prevented Houston from matching its 52-point output against Navy last November; the mistakes gave Navy added points and possession time, creating the recipe for an upset.

Not only has that result in Annapolis eliminated the AAC from conversation for the four-team playoff, but it’s created a rip hole within the league. Six or seven teams now have a legitimate shot at competing for a conference championship instead of one or two.

After a long hard look in the mirror with some much-needed re-evaluation, here are The American’s power rankings as we move forward to the seventh week of the 2016 college football season:

1. Houston (5-1, 2-1 American; Last week / “LW”: No. 1)
Last week: Lost at Navy, 46-40
Next up: vs. Tulsa, Saturday, Oct. 15

Losing to a division rival in October certainly makes things interesting for Houston, but it should still have little trouble improving to 9-1 before hosting Louisville and traveling to Memphis in back-to-back weeks to end the regular season. Those two games (along with the AAC title) will decide whether the Cougars head to another New Year’s Six bowl.

2. South Florida (5-1, 2-0; LW: No. 2)
Last week: Won vs. East Carolina, 38-22
Next up: vs. UConn, Saturday, Oct. 15

That’s now 10 straight games with 35 points or more — a program record — for this explosive USF offense. The dynamic duo of quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack accounted for 517 of the 556 total yards with all five touchdowns. The Bulls have won six conference games in a row.

3. Memphis (4-1, 1-0; LW: No. 3)
Last week:
Won vs. Temple, 34-27
Next up: at Tulane, Friday, Oct. 14

Memphis’ inspiring comeback win over Temple last Thursday night shows that the Tigers are for real and might be a true contender to Houston in the AAC West.

4. Navy (4-1, 3-0; LW: No. 7)
Last week: Won vs. Houston, 46-40
Next up: at East Carolina, Thursday, Oct. 13

Turns out Lee Corso knows football better than you and I. Go figure. With Navy’s first top-10 win since 1984, ESPN now projects the Middies to pair up against Texas in the Armed Forces Bowl.

5. Central Florida (3-2, 1-0; LW: No. 8)
Last week: Game vs. Tulane postponed to Nov. 5
Next up: vs. Temple, Saturday, Oct. 15

After some serious soul-searching, it’s become clear that UCF is in prime position to finish as the nation’s most improved team by season’s end. With four extremely winnable home games left and a less-than-daunting road trip to UConn, the Knights could come away with eight wins by the time the postseason hits.

6. Temple (3-3, 1-1; LW: No. 5)
Last week: Lost at Memphis, 34-27
Next up: at Central Florida, Saturday, Oct. 15

Is it time for Temple coach Matt Rhule to make a change at quarterback? With his two interceptions in the loss to Memphis — including a pick-six for the second straight week — senior Phillip Walker now has a nation-leading nine interceptions, tossing one about every 21 attempts. He has now thrown at least one in seven of his last eight games.

7. Tulsa (4-1, 1-0; LW: No. 4)
Last week: Won vs. SMU, 43-40 (OT)
Next up: at Houston, Saturday, Oct. 15

Tulsa needed overtime in order to beat an SMU team that could drop only 34 and 29 on North Texas and FCS Liberty earlier this season, respectively. Maybe I jumped on the Golden Hurricane bandwagon a little too early; regardless, it was a fun game to keep up with, and the Hurricane are now off to their best start since 2012.

8. East Carolina (2-4, 0-2; LW: No. 10)
Last week: Lost at South Florida, 38-22
Next up: vs. Navy, Thursday, Oct. 13

Per Jeff Sagarin, ECU has faced the No. 26-ranked strength of schedule to this point. One can attribute its 2-4 start to that detail; luckily for the Pirates, they are up against the No. 80 S.O.S. from here on out and are battle-ready.

9. UConn (3-3, 1-2; LW: No. 9)
Last week: Won vs. Cincinnati, 20-9
Next up: at South Florida, Saturday, Oct. 15

Beating Cincinnati for the first time since 2010 was an ideal way to bounce back from two straight losses, but there’s still plenty of work to do to keep pace for bowl eligibility. That push starts with a difficult trip south to Tampa this Saturday.

October 08, 2016: The UConn Huskies, coached by Bob Diaco, celebrate after a 59 yard touchdown pass during the first half of a NCAA football game between AAC rivals, the Cincinnati  Bearcats and the UConn Huskies at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, CT. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

October 08, 2016: The UConn Huskies, coached by Bob Diaco, celebrate after a 59 yard touchdown pass during the first half of a NCAA football game between AAC rivals, the Cincinnati Bearcats and the UConn Huskies at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, CT. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

10. Cincinnati (3-3, 0-3; LW: No. 6)
Last week: Lost at UConn, 20-9
Next up: Bye week

A week off couldn’t have come any sooner for Cincinnati, which has now lost three of four and is 0-3 in conference play for the first time since 1999. With another lackluster performance from Hayden Moore, Bearcat quarterbacks not named Gunner Kiel are 136-of-229 (59.4 percent) with 1,594 yards (6.96 per attempt), eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It’s safe to say that even with a two-year extension earlier this spring, coach Tommy Tuberville has officially landed on the hot seat.

11. Tulane (3-2, 0-1; LW: No. 11)
Last week: Game vs. Central Florida postponed to Nov. 5
Next up: vs. Memphis, Friday, Oct. 14

After an impromptu bye week due to the postponement of its game against UCF, Tulane’s 16th-ranked rush offense will have fresh legs when it takes on a solid Memphis front seven. Controlling possession and avoiding turnovers can keep the Green Wave in contention for an upset win.

12. SMU (2-4, 0-2; LW: No. 12)
Last week: Lost at Tulsa, 43-40 (OT)
Next up: Bye week

Since the start of the 2014 season, SMU’s defense has allowed 42.1 points per game against conference opponents, giving up 40 or more 12 times. The Mustangs are 2-16 in those games.

AAC Week 6 power rankings: Conference race wide open after Houston loss

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