Week 6 American Athletic Conference rankings and reactions. The number of league teams without a loss in 2015 fell by one on Saturday, as Navy bowed to Notre Dame in South Bend.
Week 6 American Athletic Conference Rankings
1. Temple: W, Tulane 49-10
The Owls know exactly what to expect from their defense, a unit responsible for the school’s first 5-0 start since 1974. And RB Jahad Thomas is a workhorse out of the backfield. That quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Frank Nutile combined to go 14-of-18 for 223 yards, three touchdowns and no picks, though, is a very encouraging sign for Temple’s hopes of staying unbeaten and winning a title.
2. Memphis: Bye Week
Next week: Ole Miss
3. Houston: W, SMU 49-28
Explosive effort from Greg Ward and the offense … again. But while linebackers Steven Taylor and Elandon Roberts were suffocating in Thursday’s win, the rest of the Houston defense was far from memorable. The Cougars were unable to shut down the run-pass ability of shifty Mustang QB Matt Davis, which could present bigger issues down the road, especially in the regular season finale with Navy.
4. Cincinnati: Bye Week
Next week: at BYU
5. Navy: L, at Notre Dame 41-24
The Midshipmen lost a game in South Bend, but may have found a new short-yardage weapon to complement the running of QB Keenan Reynolds and FB Chris Swain. Senior Quentin Ezell was one of the few bright spots on Saturday, rushing six times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Despite being north of 250 pounds, he’s agile and light on his feet, giving Navy another option near the goal line and on third-and-short.
6. East Carolina: L, at BYU 45-38
The Pirates are ahead of schedule retooling the offense, deftly employing a two-quarterback system. Despite a preponderance of veteran talent on the front seven, though, ECU is heading in the wrong direction on defense. And it cost the team its two-game winning streak. The Pirates couldn’t stop the BYU combo of QB Tanner Mangum and RB Algernon Brown, a backup, each of whom accounted for three touchdowns.
7. South Florida: W, Syracuse 45-24
Great effort, Bulls. Now, go build off it. South Florida put everything together on Saturday, the running of Marlon Mack, the dual-threat playmaking of QB Quinton Flowers and opportunistic play from the D. But it’ll fail to resonate if USF slips back into bad habits next Saturday at UConn. For the sake of the program—and coach Willie Taggart—the Bulls need to use Week 6 as a launching point to the second half of the year.
8. Tulsa: W, Louisiana-Monroe 34-24
Joshua Atkinson and Justin Hobbs are first in line to pick up the slack now that leading WR Keevan Lucas has been lost for the season to a knee injury. Atkinson and Hobbs, a 6-4 rookie with a promising future, caught 14 of Dane Evans’ passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. Yeah, Lucas will be missed, but the Golden Hurricane passing game shows no signs of slowing down under Philip Montgomery’s leadership.
9. Connecticut: W, at UCF 40-13
The Huskies are the latest team to get healthy on UCF, the American’s Z-Pak. UConn enjoyed its best offensive game of the year, with QB Bryant Shirreffs and RB Arkeel Newsome both chipping in with timely conversions. Newsome, in particular, is doing a little bit of everything for Bob Diaco. Can the Huskies build off a rare blowout in conference play? Don’t get too excited. The winless Knights are really that bad this season.
10. Tulane: L, at Temple 49-10
It’s not as if QB Tanner Lee is a bad athlete. But he’s not going to escape the pressure of a team like Temple to extend plays. And when the Green Wave O-line, a shaky group of blockers, is unable to hold its blocks, the results are predictable. With time a week ago, Lee dissected UCF for four touchdown passes. Facing pressure on Saturday, the sophomore could only throw for 95 yards and a score.
11. SMU: L, at Houston 49-28
Silver linings to the Mustangs’ fourth loss in a row? QB Matt Davis continues to show a propensity for carrying the offense with his feet and his arms, and DE Justin Lawler is blowing up into a star. For the third time in the first six games, Lawler was a monster off the edge, making nine tackles, three stops for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Best of all, he can be the defensive cornerstone Chad Morris craves through the 2017 season.
12. UCF: L, Connecticut 40-13
The 0-6 Knights are basically auditioning for whoever is coaching the team in 2015. There’s not a whole lot else to play for in Orlando as the season quickly unravels. UCF is happy about the return of Justin Holman, the program’s best quarterback. He was rusty in his first action in a month, completing just 27-of-50 for 255 yards, one touchdown and three picks. But he’s a gamer, which UCF will need over the final six games.