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AAC RANKINGS: Pirates drop back to 11th

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East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers surges forward against Memphis.

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The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cincinnati made the biggest jump of the week, moving up three spots to No. 2 in the beat writer American Athletic Conference football power rankings.

East Carolina, which is still winless in the league after a 59-41 home loss to Memphis, fell from No. 10 to 11th. Tulane is No. 7.

Here is how the league stacks up heading into Week 11:

1. UCF

Previous ranking: 1 | Points: 144

Record: 8-0 (5-0 AAC)

Last week: defeated Temple, 52-40

This week: vs. Navy

Trajectory: Steady. Quarterback McKenzie Milton returned to the lineup after missing a game with an injury to score four touchdowns as UCF extended its nation-leading winning streak to 21 games. Running back Greg McCrae, a former walk-on, had a career night with 188 yards rushing.

Did you know? UCF also extended a streak of 21 straight games with scoring 30-or-more points and the 52 points against the Owls was the fifth time the Knights have scored 40-or-more points this season.

- Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

2. Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 5 | Points: 126

Record: 8-1 (4-1 AAC)

Last week: defeated Navy, 42-0

This week: vs. USF

Trajectory: Surging. The Bearcats surprised Navy with a 4-4 defensive front and held the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense to 124 yards rushing, a season low. UC running back Michael Warren II rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns. QB Desmond Ridder threw for 178 yards and a TD, and he rushed for 66 yards and a TD.

Did you know? UC's eight wins are its most in the regular season since 2014, when the Bearcats went 9-3. They finished 9-4 after a 33-17 Military Bowl loss to Virginia Tech.

- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

3. Houston

Previous ranking: 2 | Points: 115

Record: 7-2 (4-1 AAC)

Last week: lost to SMU, 45-31

Next game: vs. Temple

Trajectory: Skidding. Houston could not avoid a trap game as one of the nation’s top offenses was held to season-lows for points (31) and yards (365) against SMU. With three weeks left, the Cougars still control their destiny in the West Division. All-America DT Ed Oliver is on track to return this week after missing two games with a bruised right knee.

Did you know? Houston is 6-0 all-time against Temple, with one of the victories coming in the 2015 AAC championship game.

- Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

4. Temple

Previous ranking: 3 | Points: 109

Record: 5-4 (4-1 AAC)

Last week: lost to UCF, 52-40

Next game: at Houston

Trajectory: Skidding. Temple’s defense, which was supposed to be its calling card, allowed more than 300 yards rushing and passing in the loss to UCF. Anthony Russo threw for 444 yards, four TDs and scored on a 5-yard run off a fake field goal. The Owls are banged up with center Matt Hennessy, receiver Randle Jones and running back Ryquell Armstead unable to finish the game vs UCF.

Did you know? In the loss at UCF, Temple broke the record for total offense in program history with 670 yards. The previous record was 622 yards set in 1974 against Southern Illinois.

- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News

5. SMU

Previous ranking: 6 | Points: 94

Record: 4-5 (3-2 in AAC)

Last week: defeated Houston, 45-31

This week: at Connecticut

Trajectory: Surging. Ben Hicks threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mustangs over a ranked Houston for the second time in the last three years. Suddenly, SMU has a legitimate shot to reach bowl eligibility for the second year in a row with remaining games against UConn, Memphis and Tulsa.

Did you know? SMU is 0-18 against other Top 25 in the past seven years.

- Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

6. South Florida

Previous ranking: 4 | Points: 84

Record: 7-2 (3-2 AAC)

Last week: lost to Tulane, 41-15

This week: at Cincinnati

Trajectory: Skidding. After seven consecutive victories against mostly feeble opposition, the Bulls now appear to be a rudderless team. Following their loss to Tulane, in which they gave up 34 unanswered points, coach Charlie Strong said the Bulls "didn't play hard at all" and are sorely lacking leaders. With games against Cincinnati, Temple and UCF remaining, a 7-5 finish is very conceivable.

Did you know? The 98 points allowed by USF in consecutive losses to Houston and Tulane are the most surrendered in a two-game stretch in program history.

- Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times

7. Tulane

Previous ranking: 8 | Points: 78

Record: 4-5 (3-2 AAC)

Last week: defeated South Florida, 41-15

This week: vs. East Carolina

Trajectory: Surging. Tulane had its most lopsided conference road win this century, spotting South Florida a 3-0 lead and then scoring 34 consecutive points to take total control while rushing for 368 yards. If the Green Wave beats ECU for homecoming, it will have realistic hopes of winning the West.

Did you know? Tulane is seeking its second above-.500 conference finish in the last 20 years.

- Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

8. Memphis

Previous ranking: 7 | Points: 65

Record: 5-4 (2-3 AAC)

Last week: defeated East Carolina, 59-41

This week: vs. Tulsa

Trajectory: Steady. Memphis came out firing after the bye week and finally got its first road win of the season. Damonte Coxie had a career-high day (10 receptions, 172 yards, 2 TDs), Brady White had his best road performance (21-of-30, 362 yards, 3 TDs) and Darrell Henderson returned healthy with 204 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Now the Tigers prepare for their last Saturday game of the regular season.

Did you know? Memphis is one win shy of being bowl eligible for five straight seasons, extending a school record.

- Evan Barnes, The Commercial Appeal

9. Navy

Previous ranking: 9 | Points: 40

Record: 2-7 (1-4 AAC)

Last week: lost to Cincinnati, 42-0

This week: at Central Florida

Trajectory: Skidding. Navy hit rock bottom with a lifeless 42-0 loss at Cincinnati. The Midshipmen were never in this game, falling behind 28-0 at halftime. Another quarterback change did nothing to spark the struggling offense. Zach Abey, the starter for most of last season, replaced Garret Lewis at the helm. This latest setback, Navy’s sixth straight, assures a losing season.

Did you know? Navy was shut out for the first time since losing to San Jose State 12-0 in 2012. The Mids were shut out in the first half in consecutive contests for the first time since 1993.

- Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

10. Tulsa

Previous ranking: 11 | Points: 37

Record: 2-7 (1-4 AAC)

Last week: defeated Connecticut, 49-19

This week: at Memphis

Trajectory: Surging. After repeated fourth-quarter meltdowns, the Hurricane built a large enough lead Saturday to play reserves in the final period. Against the worst defense in the country, Tulsa racked up a season-high 638 yards including 470 on the ground.

Did you know? Sophomore RBs Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II have combined for 11 career games with at least 100 rushing yards.

- Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

11. East Carolina

Previous ranking: 10 | Points: 32

Record: 2-6 (0-5 AAC)

Last week: lost to Memphis, 59-41

This week: at Tulane

Trajectory: Steady. Plug in the next opponent and this time it will be Tulane as a double-digit favorite over the Pirates, who are on a four-game losing streak and will have to pull at least one road upset during their final four games to finish better than 3-9. ECU is still looking for the confidence and right formula for that to happen.

Did you know? Third-year coach Scottie Montgomery is now 3-18 in AAC games, with 16 of those losses by double digits.

- Ronnie Woodward, Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector

12. Connecticut

Previous ranking: 12 | Points: 12

Record: 1-8 (0-5 AAC)

Last week: lost to Tulsa, 49-19

This week: vs. SMU

Trajectory: Skidding. At this point, what more is there to say? After losing by 30 points to another one-win team, UConn stands as not only the clear-cut worst team in the American but also one of the worst teams in the country.

Did you know? The Huskies have lost six games this season by at least 30 points.

- Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant

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