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USF, UCF remain atop AAC power rankings

Houston tailback Duke Catalon ran for a career-best 177 yards in the Cougars' 35-22 victory against SMU on Saturday.

AP photo

Houston tailback Duke Catalon ran for a career-best 177 yards in the Cougars' 35-22 victory against SMU on Saturday.



The latest American Athletic Conference power rankings, as determined by a league-wide panel of beat reporters.

1. USF (5-0, 2-0 AAC): Thanks to Iowa State's 38-31 upset of Oklahoma, the No. 18 Bulls own the distinction of the longest current stretch without a loss (dating to Oct. 21, 2016) of any Division I team. They enter Saturday's homecoming game against Cincinnati on a 10-game win streak, second-longest in the nation behind Clemson (11). USF is coming off a bye week during which its two top rushers — seniors D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice — wore protective boots for minor
ailments. Both practiced and appeared pain-free Tuesday. — Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times

2. UCF (4-0, 2-0): QB McKenzie Milton put together a career night with 374 yards and five touchdowns as the Knights scored on all eight of their possessions to jump out to a 51-23 lead over Cincinnati in the third quarter's waning seconds. A one-hour, seven-minute weather delay followed, and the game was called by the AAC. UCF improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1988, when the program was in Division II. — Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

3. Navy (5-0, 3-0): The Midshipmen captured the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy race, but it wasn't easy. QB Zach Abey directed a 75-yard TD drive in the final two minutes as Navy edged Air Force, 48-45. The Midshipmen squandered a 21-point lead and trailed by four with 1:52 remaining. Abey converted a huge fourth down with a 25-yard pass to Brandon Colon, then tossed a 16-yard TD to Tyler Carmona with 15 seconds remaining. Navy is 5-0 for the first time since 2004. — Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

4. Houston (4-1, 2-0): Duke Catalon rushed for a career-high 177 yards and two TDs in a 35-22 win over SMU. Houston's defense held SMU 26 points below its season average, and was especially tough in the red zone. S Terrell Williams had a pair of interceptions as SMU was shut out in the fourth quarter for the first time this season. Some good news: All-America DT Ed Oliver played only a week after suffering a sprained left MCL. The Cougars will look to keep pace in the West Division when they visit Tulsa on Saturday.  — Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

5. Memphis (4-1, 1-1): Mike Norvell said he had no doubt that Riley Ferguson would bounce back after a loss to UCF, and did he ever. The senior threw for 431 yards and seven TDs, tying a conference single-game record in the Tigers' 70-31 rout of Connecticut. Anthony Miller (15 catches, 224 yards) also tied a record with four receiving TDs. Records will be much harder to come by Saturday as Navy —- fresh into the top 25 this week —- visits the Liberty Bowl. — John Varlas,
The Commercial Appeal

6. SMU (4-2, 1-1): The Mustangs missed a chance to make a statement about their AAC standing against Houston. The Cougars ran the ball down SMU's throat (265 rushing yards) in a 35-22 SMU loss. The Mustangs now head into the bye week trying to solve their issues with tackling and trying to fine-tune their red zone offense, which left a lot of points on the board against Houston. The bye comes at a good time for SMU to get healthy, with starting OT Jacob Todora (leg) and S Rodney Clemons (ankle) dealing with injuries. — Adam Grosbard, Dallas Morning News

7. Tulane (3-2, 1-1): Ending years and years of frustration in emphatic fashion, Tulane scored touchdowns on all seven first-half possessions in a 62-28 shellacking of Tulsa that was even more lopsided than the score indicated. Willie Fritz has turned around the program in his second year, finding a dynamic quarterback in junior college transfer Jonathan Banks, cranking up the running game (488 yards on the ground Saturday, third-most in school history) and getting solid play from a veteran defense recruited by predecessor Curtis Johnson. The Green Wave, which won for only the second time in the last 13 meetings with reeling Tulsa, is a double-digit road favorite for the first time in 14 years for its non-conference game Saturday at FIU. — Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

8. Temple (3-3, 1-2): The Owls had their best showing of the season in Saturday’s 34-10 win at East Carolina. After throwing an early interception, QB Logan Marchi settled down and finished 19-of-31 for 321 yards and two TDs. Led by DE Jacob Martin, Temple held ECU to 34 rushing yards on 22 carries. This is the second straight year Temple is 3-3 at the midway point of the regular season. Top RB Ryquell Armstead is far less than 100 percent and was limited to only four carries Saturday, but redshirt junior David Hood rushed for 106 yards and a TD on 20 carries. Temple hosts UConn on Saturday at noon.​ — Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

9. Cincinnati (2-4, 0-2): The Bearcats lost 51-23 at home to UCF, a game shortened by lightning and heavy rain. Four seconds remained in the third quarter when the AAC terminated the game, after a 67-minute delay. Still, the 51 points were the most UC has allowed at home since a 52-34 loss to Tulane in 1998. UC next visits unbeaten USF this Saturday. — Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Inquirer

10. Tulsa (1-5, 0-2): After dropping winnable games in the previous three weeks, the Hurricane was dealt an embarrassing 62-28 blowout loss at Tulane on Saturday. The only positive was the play of QB Luke Skipper, who entered to replace struggling passer Chad President when Tulsa trailed 21-0, and finished with 256 passing yards. Looking to end a four-game slide Saturday, the Hurricane hosts Houston, which has won the last three meetings. — Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

11. East Carolina (1-5, 1-2): Bad continued to get worse for ECU in a 34-10 blowout loss to Temple, the Pirates' fourth home loss by 20 or more points this season. ECU led briefly in the opening moments, but was trailing 24-3 by halftime and never threatened a comeback. The Pirates did not have a rusher with more than 30 yards and finished with 34 as a team. ECU, which treks to red-hot UCF this week, yielded more than 500 yards for the sixth time in six games. — Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector

12. Connecticut (1-4, 0-3): The Huskies were embarrassed by Memphis at home, allowing a program-record number of points in a 70-31 loss. UConn was torn apart for 711 yards on 100 plays, with Memphis' Riley Ferguson throwing seven TD passes. The Huskies continue to have the worst passing defense in the nation (399.8 ypg), and by an increasingly wide margin. UConn plays Saturday at Temple. — Mike Anthony, Hartford Courant

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 5:14pm]


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