American Athletic Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 10

Week 10 American Athletic Conference Rankings

1. Houston: W, Cincinnati 33-30

QB Greg Ward Jr. wasn’t great for a change, yet the Cougars found a way a to hold off an improving Bearcat team. And that’s a sign of progress for Houston. Ward threw two picks and failed to rush for a score, but the D picked up the slack. S Trevon Stewart really picked up the slack with three sacks, a couple of hurries and a safety. As Houston struggles with O-line issue, it’ll need more from the defense in upcoming games with Memphis and Navy.

2. Navy: W, at Memphis 45-20

It’s all right there for you now, Mids. Navy handed Memphis its first loss of 2015 in decisive fashion, winning both sides of the ball. With the rout, the Midshipmen took a giant step toward an American crown and possibly a spot in a Big Six bowl game. The defense was the story at the Liberty Bowl, as Navy quieted QB Paxton Lynch and a Tiger attack that began the weekend averaging 48 points per game. The Nov. 27 trip to Houston could decide the West Division.

3. Memphis: L, Navy 45-20

Okay, so how will you handle adversity, Tigers? Memphis did more than lose for the first time in 2015 Saturday night. It was manhandled by a more physical opponent, which could cast doubts in the minds of the players. The Tigers are still capable of getting back into the American race, but now they’re going to require help. Plus, they’ll need to bounce back in a hurry, because trips to Houston and Temple immediately follow the loss to Navy.

4. Temple: W, at SMU 60-40

Yup, it was an uncharacteristic game for the defense-first Owls. But they showed they can rebound from the emotional loss to Notre Dame and win if dragged into a rare shootout. QB P.J. Walker was terrific, throwing four touchdown passes, on a night when RB Jahad Thomas wasn’t much of a factor. With a win next Saturday at South Florida, Temple wraps up the American East Division with two weekends left in the regular season.

5. Cincinnati: L, at Houston 33-30

Give credit to head coach Tommy Tuberville. He has kept these Bearcats together following a rocky start to the year. And even in losing at unbeaten Houston, Cincinnati and Gunner Kiel made a statement by passing for 523 yards and four touchdowns. The Bearcats are a victory away from bowl eligibility, with winnable games ahead against Tulsa, South Florida and East Carolina.

6. South Florida: W, at East Carolina 22-17

This is a very different Bull team than any recent editions in Tampa. The old Bulls would have still been smarting from last week’s loss to Navy, which snapped a three-game winning streak. Today’s USF, though, rebounded to win a key game on the road. At 5-4, South Florida now stands just one victory from coveted bowl eligibility, with winless UCF still left on the schedule.

7. Connecticut: W, at Tulane 7-3

A win’s a win, especially on the road. And especially when you’re a Husky team that hasn’t been at .500 this late in the year since 2010. Connecticut will celebrate the small victories in Bob Diaco’s second season, handling the Green Wave in rain-drenched New Orleans despite not scoring a single offensive point. With an upset of either Houston or Temple, the Huskies will bowl, a Herculean step for this program.

8. East Carolina: L, South Florida 22-17

What has happened to the Pirates? The team that defeated Virginia Tech on Sept. 26 is currently mired in a tailspin from which it can’t get out. Since peaking at 3-2 a month ago, East Carolina has won just one time. Plus, the offense, which was so effectively blending the unique skills sets of quarterbacks James Summers and Blake Kemp, has averaged just 15 points in he last three games, all lackluster defeats. ECU must win its final two over UCF and Cincinnati just to reach .500.

9. Tulsa: W, UCF 45-30

The Golden Hurricane moved a game above .500 and within a victory of bowl eligibility in Philip Montgomery’s first season on the sideline. It still must beat Cincinnati, Navy or Tulane to become eligible for a postseason game. Tulsa continues to boost its backfield depth, as rookie RB Ramadi Warren eclipsed his season rushing total by exploding for 155 yards and three scores on only 17 carries.

10. SMU: L, Temple 60-40

The Mustangs became the first team all year to score more than 26 points on the stout Owl D, so there’s that for Chad Morris to build upon. Morris’ offense has a lot of long-term potential, since the trio of QB Matt Davis, RB Xavier Jones and WR Courtland Sutton will all be back in 2016. SMU has three more shots, at Navy, Tulane and at Memphis, to avoid carrying a long losing streak into the offseason.

11. Tulane: L, Connecticut 7-3

The Green Wave was officially eliminated from postseason contention, as if that was ever going to be a realistic possibility for this flawed program. If Tulane was going to have an edge at the skill positions on Saturday, it was neutralized by inclement weather. Tulane has dropped four straight, with games left against Army, SMU and Tulsa, and question marks swirling about the future of head coach Curtis Johnson.

12. UCF: L, at Tulsa 45-30

Just. Two. More. Games. The Knights’ horrifying season is mercifully nearing the end. After a bye this week, UCF will have two more chances to avoid a winless campaign, as East Carolina and South Florida will visit Orlando. One of the few bright spots this season has been rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith, who continued to play well with seven grabs for 131 yards and a touchdown.