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USF still No. 1 in AAC power rankings

USF linebacker Josh Black (right) tries to take down Tulane running back Dontrell Hilliard during the Bulls' 34-28 victory Saturday in New Orleans.

AP photo

USF linebacker Josh Black (right) tries to take down Tulane running back Dontrell Hilliard during the Bulls' 34-28 victory Saturday in New Orleans.



Memphis moved into sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference's West Division, while USF and UCF remained unbeaten in the East.

The AAC has three teams ranked this week in the Associated Press poll: No. 17 USF, No. 18 UCF and No. 24 Memphis. Here’s how the AAC stacks up this week, as voted upon by our league-wide panel of beat reporters.

1. USF (7-0, 4-0 AAC) The Bulls appeared on pace for their fourth consecutive win of 30 or more points Saturday at Tulane, but an overwhelming performance regressed into an overconfident one. In a glaring defensive lapse, the Bulls watched the Green Wave score three consecutive touchdowns and block a field goal in a 34-28 USF victory. Presumably, the close call also will serve as a wake-up one: USF faces its toughest test yet Saturday at home against Houston. -- Joey
Knight, Tampa Bay Times

2. UCF (6-0, 4-0): Adrian Killins rushed for a career-high 122 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, that helped UCF survive one of its biggest challenges to date as the Knights outlasted Navy 31-21 Saturday. Redshirt freshman cornerback Brandon Moore was a one-man wrecking crew on defense with a forced fumble and fumble recovery along with an interception that sealed the win for the Knights, off to their first 6-0 start ever. -- Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

3. Memphis (6-1, 3-1): Riley Ferguson set a school passing record with 471 yards as the Tigers moved atop the West with a thrilling come-from-behind 42-38 victory at Houston. Tony Pollard returned his third kickoff for a TD this season, while RB Patrick Taylor scored four times for Memphis, which trailed 31-14 late in the third quarter. Houston native Sean Dykes scored the game-winning TD. Memphis hosts Tulane Friday at the Liberty Bowl. -- John Varlas, The Commercial Appeal

4. Navy (5-2, 3-2): The Midshipmen suffered their second consecutive loss, 31-21 to UCF, and also saw starting QB Zach Abey go down with an injury early in the third quarter after being hit by UCF LB Shaquem Griffin. The Midsshipmen have a bye this weekend and play at Temple on Thursday, Nov. 2 -– Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

5. Houston (4-3, 2-2): Second-half defense continues to be a problem as the Cougars blew a 17-point lead and allowed all six TDs after halftime in a 42-38 loss to Memphis. In consecutive losses to Tulsa and Memphis, UH has allowed 80 points, 624 total yards and TDs on 11 of 13 possessions after halftime. It doesn’t get easier Saturday as the Cougars play at USF -- the fifth top-15 scoring offense they’ll face this season -- and look to avoid a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2013. -- Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

6. SMU (5-2, 2-1): The Mustangs picked up their first road win of the season in a wild victory over Cincinnati. The 31-28 win, which required a fourth-and-26 conversion by WR Trey Quinn and an interception on a tipped shovel pass in overtime, gave SMU a big dose of confidence. The Mustangs are a win from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2012, and are looking for more than that as they sit in second place in the West. Next up is Tulsa before a tough stretch
against UCF, Navy and Memphis. –- Adam Grosbard, Dallas Morning News

7. Tulane (3-4, 1-2): Tulane looked overmatched by USF for the better part of three quarters before rallying for three late TDs to get within a score in a 34-28 loss at home. QB Jonathan Banks has an intense competitiveness the Green Wave lacked in the past, and RB Dontrell Hilliard is a terrific all-around player. The defense, subpar in back-to-back games, has to prepare for Memphis and prolific QB Riley Ferguson on a short week for Friday’s road game. That can’t be fun. -– Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

8. Connecticut (3-4, 2-3): The Huskies built a 20-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter and hung on for a 20-14 victory over Tulsa, a wild game that ended with a Tulsa pass attempt broken up in the end zone with no time remaining. UConn had a season-high six sacks, its most in a game since posting six against a Randy Edsall-coached Maryland team in 2012. The Huskies have won two in a row for the first time since a three-game streak in 2015. They will try to get to .500
Saturday at home against Missouri. -– Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant

T9. Temple (3-5, 1-3): In a difficult year, the Owls suffered their most frustrating loss during Saturday’s 31-28 overtime defeat at Army. The winners forced overtime by scoring on a 16-yard scoring pass with one second to play in regulation, capping a 14-play, 79-yard drive in 1:31. Temple failed to send the game into a second overtime after missing a 27-yard field goal at the end of the first extra period. Redshirt junior QB Frank Nutile earned his first career start in place of injured Logan Marchi, and finished 20-of-29 for 290 yards, one TD and no interceptions. The banged-up Owls have a bye this week before hosting Navy on Nov. 2. -- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

T9. Tulsa (2-6, 1-3): Following an impressive win against Houston, the erratic Hurricane took another step back with a dismal offensive outing in Saturday's 20-14 loss at UConn. Tulsa didn't score until the final eight minutes but somehow had a chance to win on the final play, a pass broken up in the end zone. Up next are three consecutive non-Saturday games, starting with Friday’s visit to SMU. -– Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

11. Cincinnati (2-6, 0-4): The Bearcats lost their fifth straight game, 31-28 to SMU in overtime. UC rushed for a season-high 249 yards, led by Gerrid Doaks with 91. The game ended in overtime when Bearcats QB Hayden Moore was hit and then intercepted while attempting a short, underhand pass near the line of scrimmage. UC has a bye this week. -- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

12. East Carolina (2-6, 1-3): The Pirates managed their first comfortable win in nearly a year in a 33-17 victory against fellow bottom-dweller BYU on ECU's homecoming. Now the Pirates get a much-needed bye week before playing the final four games of the season. A third win will be difficult in that stretch, with road trips to Houston and Memphis sandwiched around home dates against Tulane and Cincinnati. Against the Cougars, PK Jake Verity steered ECU into the lead with
three third-quarter field goals before backup QB Gardner Minshew fired two TD passes in the fourth. -– Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector



[Last modified: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 6:56pm]


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