Week 8 American Athletic Conference rankings and reactions. The league’s three undefeated and ranked programs, Memphis, Houston and Temple, will remain undefeated and ranked. The Owls earned the best win of the trio, escaping East Carolina in Greenville.
Week 8 American Athletic Player of the Week
Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 32-of-44 passes for 447 yards and four scores and ran for six yards and a touchdown in the win over Tulsa.
Week 8 American Athletic Conference Rankings
1. Memphis: W, at Tulsa 66-42
Apparently, handling prosperity won’t be a problem for the Tigers. A week after stunning Ole Miss, Memphis rocked the Golden Hurricane on the road. And Justin Fuente’s team is developing new weapons on the fly. The Tigers possess a virtual endless number of weapons for QB Paxton Lynch. WR Tevin Jones scored twice in a game for the first time in his career, and backs Dorland Dorceus and Jamarius Henderson both had career-highs in rushing.
2. Temple: W, at East Carolina 24-14
The Owls proved they can win on a night that RB Jahad Thomas doesn’t roll, and that’s an important development with Notre Dame and Memphis still on the regular season schedule. The junior had one of his quietest games of the season, so QB P.J. Walker and WR Robby Anderson stepped up in the passing game, and the D was its usual suffocating self, bagging six sacks from six different Owls.
3. Houston: W, at UCF 59-10
The Cougars are littered with speed and playmakers on offense. But in the event that anyone thinks the team is predictable or one-note, it can pound opponents with power as well. Houston rushed for 366 yards in Saturday’s rout, with north-south RB Kenneth Farrow leading the way with 167 yards and three touchdowns on only 13 carries. It’s that blend of strength and speed that makes it so tough to slow Tom Herman’s attack.
4. Navy: W, Tulane 31-14
When the running game is uncharacteristically tame, like on Saturday, the Midshipmen know they can win with defense and the passing game. Navy managed just 133 yards on the ground, which will need to be addressed, but Keenan Reynolds and the passing game accounted for 158 yards and touchdowns. And the D held the Green Wave to one touchdown while the game was still competitive.
5. Cincinnati: W, Connecticut 37-13
Based on his Week 8 performance, the quarterback job will be Gunner Kiel’s to lose going forward. After missing time with an injury, Kiel saw his lead on backup Hayden Moore narrow somewhat. But the incumbent was impressive on Saturday, completing 26-of-35 for 327 yards and two touchdowns, as Cincinnati became the first team in 2015 to score more than 30 on UConn.
6. East Carolina: L, Temple 24-14
Without the threat of the long ball, the Pirates are struggling to earn the respect of quality defenses. ECU threw 53 times in Thursday’s loss to the Owls, but only amassed 283 yards and a single touchdown. The Pirates do a lot of dinking-and-dunking, which allows the opposition to narrow the field and put more bodies in the box. There’s also the issue of inadequate protection, which forced Blake Kemp to release the ball as fast as possible.
7. South Florida: W, SMU 38-14
If Bull QB Quinton Flowers improves as a passer in the coming years, look out, American. The first-year starter flashed his athleticism in the win over the Mustangs, rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. On a day when the Bulls were without their best offensive weapon, RB Marlon Mack, Flowers’s ability to break containment and pick up yards after contact were especially valuable to USF.
8. Connecticut: L, at Cincinnati 37-13
If there are looming cracks in the defense, the Huskies will be in big trouble over the final four games. UConn was able to count on its D, particularly the linebackers, during the first half of the year. But at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, the team gave up 612 yards, including an uncharacteristic 347 on the ground. If Week 8 was the beginning of a trend, Connecticut lacks the pop to keep pace in higher scoring games.
9. Tulsa: L, Memphis 66-42
The worse the O-line plays, the more reps true freshman QB Chad President is going to receive in the final five games. Dane Evans is the team’s most accomplished passer, and he’ll be needed to compensate for a porous Hurricane defense. But President’s agility and ability to elude pressure are valuable traits to an offense that gave up six sacks and a bunch of hurries of Evans on Friday.
10. Tulane: L, at Navy 31-14
Hey, at least the defense played better than expected. The Green Wave lost for the third straight game, and bowl eligibility is becoming increasingly unlikely. But Tulane held Navy more than 200 yards below its usual rushing average, which is something on which the defense can build. The Green Wave prepared well for the triple-option, making 11 stops for minus yards.
11. SMU: L, at South Florida
Bad news? The Bull defense crushed QB Matt Davis, the Mustangs’ most important player. Silver lining? It allowed the team to give reps to rookie Darrel Colbert, Jr., who looked pretty good in the most extensive action of his first season. In the loss to USF, he completed 11-of-13 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown pass fellow freshman Courtland Sutton.
12. UCF: L, Houston 59-10
Whoever is coaching the Knights in 2016 better be familiar with the junior college ranks. UCF is going to need reinforcements … everywhere. The program lacks depth, speed and, well, talent. And if George O’Leary’s successor wants to get out of the gate quickly, he’ll need the help of players who are a little older, a little bigger and a little more ready to compete immediately.