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AAC Week 10 power rankings: Big-time changes could be on the way

Navy linebacker Winn Howard (51) celebrates with the student section following a 28-27 victory during an NCAA football game between Notre Dame and Navy on November 5, 2016 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)
(Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

Today is a day to recognize American democracy and freedom. It is Election Day, and no matter who you are voting for, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to empower yourself as a U.S. citizen with a voice.

But while hundreds of millions will be awaiting tonight’s results after the final ballots are in, a (somewhat) smaller group of passionate “American” followers are looking forward to a different kind of result this weekend.

Week 10 basically set up a prequel for The American championship game, and we could find out a little early who will be representing each division depending on the outcome of Week 11’s games.

For now, though, Houston and South Florida remain Nos. 1 and 2, with the growing possibility of a massive shake-up to the make and look of the conference by this time next week.

Here are our Week 10 AAC power rankings:

1. Houston (7-2, 4-2; Last week / “LW”: No. 1)
Last week:
Bye week
Next up: vs. Tulane, Saturday, Nov. 12

Houston has to feel pretty helpless at this point. Arguably the most talented team in the AAC — name another member that could dominate Oklahoma like it did Week 1 — the Cougars are hoping that Tulsa beats Navy and then loses to UCF the next week, along with some help from the playoff committee rankings.

2. South Florida (7-2, 4-1; LW: No. 2)
Last week: Bye week
Next up: at Memphis, Saturday, Nov. 12

Like Houston, South Florida finds itself in an awkward spot this late in the regular season. The Bulls have the most exciting offense in the conference with the nation’s ninth-ranked scoring unit (43.4 ppg), but needs an extremely unlikely loss from Temple in one of its final two games.

3. Navy (6-2, 4-1; LW: No. 4)
Last week:
Won vs. Notre Dame, 28-27
Next up: vs. Tulsa, Saturday, Nov. 12

It seems as if the only thing standing in the way of Navy and an AAC title appearance is this week’s home contest with a confident Tulsa opponent. But even with a 14-game winning streak in Annapolis, the Midshipmen are two-point underdogs.

4. Temple (7-3, 5-1; LW: No. 3)
Last week:
Won at UConn, 21-0
Next up: Bye week

It couldn’t be more simple for Temple, which just needs to beat Tulane and East Carolina (who are a combined 1-9 in conference play) to win the AAC East for a second consecutive season.

5. Tulsa (7-2, 4-1; LW: No. 5)
Last week: Won vs. East Carolina, 45-24
Next up: at Navy, Saturday, Nov. 12

Since the beginning of October, Tulsa has emerged as an extremely dangerous offensive team with a top-10 rushing attack, having compiled 1,443 yards (288.6 per game) and 19 touchdowns over its last five games. With a win at Navy, the Golden Hurricane will have sole possession of first place in the West.

6. UCF (5-4, 3-2; LW: No. 6)
Last week:
Won vs. Tulane, 37-6
Next up: vs. Cincinnati, Saturday, Nov. 12

ESPN’s FPI is giving UCF a 74.9 percent chance to beat hapless Cincinnati in Orlando this weekend, which would make the Knights bowl eligible after finishing 0-12 last season with a -285 point differential. That’s incredible.

7. Memphis (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 7)
Last week:
Won at SMU, 51-7
Next up: vs. South Florida, Saturday, Nov. 12

Memphis concludes the upper echelon of the AAC power rankings, especially after bouncing back from a pounding at home vs. Tulsa by following it up with a 44-point win in Dallas. From here, there is a significant drop off in overall level of competitiveness.

8. Cincinnati (4-5, 1-5; LW: No. 9)
Last week:
Lost vs. BYU, 20-3
Next up: at Central Florida, Saturday, Nov. 12

Lashing out at fans in your own home stadium after losing your fifth game of the season by double digits isn’t necessarily a good look for Tommy Tuberville. Cincinnati fans are a tight-knit group who want to feel like their coach is a proud member of the University and bleeds red and black, not someone looking to kill time before retirement.

9. SMU (4-5, 2-3; LW: No. 8)
Last week: Lost vs. Memphis, 51-7
Next up:
at East Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 12

All good things must come to an end, and that’s what happened over the weekend when Memphis came in and reminded us all that SMU is still very much rebuilding for the future.

10. East Carolina (3-6, 1-4; LW: No. 10)
Last week:
Lost at Tulsa, 45-24
Next up: vs. SMU, Saturday, Nov. 12

In all likelihood, East Carolina won’t be playing in a bowl game in coach Scottie Montgomery’s first season. But what it can do is beat SMU this week and try to play spoiler for either Navy or Temple later this month.

11. Tulane (3-6, 0-5; LW: No. 11)
Last week:
Lost at UCF, 37-6
Next up: at Houston, Saturday, Nov. 12

The momentum brought from a 3-2 start in Year 1 of the Willie Fritz project has succumbed to its surrounding quality of competition. Tulane ranks dead last in the FBS in completion percentage (39.7 percent) and passer efficiency (88.82). It seems as if the regular season finale at UConn will determine who earns the final bid for the conference’s worst team in 2016.

12. UConn (3-7, 1-6; LW: No. 12)
Last week:
Lost vs. Temple, 21-0
Next up: Bye week

Bob Diaco will enter the 2017 season on the hot seat after a frustrating third year in Storrs. UConn has averaged 11.5 points during its current four-game losing streak, having scored three points total over its last 10 quarters.

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