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Knights nudge closer to USF in AAC power rankings

UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton led a Knights offense that generated more than 600 yards in Saturday's  40-13 rout of Memphis.

Orlando Sentinel

UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton led a Knights offense that generated more than 600 yards in Saturday's 40-13 rout of Memphis.

4

October

Conference play is now in full swing in the American Athletic Conference, which had two teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 (No. 18 USF, No. 25 UCF) and a third, Navy, that is also unbeaten.

Here’s how the AAC stacks up this week, as voted upon by our league-wide panel of beat reporters.

1. USF (5-0, 2-0 AAC): The No. 18 Bulls amassed a season-high 390 rushing yards in a 61-31 romp of East Carolina, extending their program-best win streak to 10 games. Only Oklahoma (14 games) owns a longer current streak in Division I (Clemson also has won 10 in a row). After a bye week, the Bulls host Cincinnati on Oct. 14. If they score at least 30 in that one, it will be their 23rd consecutive game of 30 or more points, tying a D-I record set by Oregon in 2011-12. -- Joey
Knight, Tampa Bay Times


2. UCF (3-0, 1-0): Adrian Killins’ 96-yard touchdown run set the tone for the Knights, who amassed more than 600 total yards for the first time since 2013 in a 40-13 win Saturday against Memphis at Spectrum Stadium. The defense forced four turnovers while holding the Tigers to 25-percent efficiency on third down. UCF now ranks fourth in the nation in opponents’ third-down conversion rate (21 percent). The Knights travel to Cincinnati on Saturday looking to improve to 4-0 for
the first time since 1988. -- Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

3. Navy (4-0, 3-0): A battle between teams picked third and fourth in the AAC West turned into a rout as the Midshipmen overcame an early two-TD deficit to beat Tulsa, 31-21. QB Zach Abey continued his impressive season, rushing for 185 yards and three TDs as Navy took the early lead in the West with a 3-0 conference mark. Navy looks to start a season 5-0 for the first time since 2004 when it hosts Air Force on Saturday. -- Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

4. Memphis (3-1, 0-1): In arguably the most-ballyhooed game in the conference last week, the Tigers fell flat and were routed by UCF, 40-13. They committed five turnovers, allowed the Knights to accumulate more than 600 yards of offense and were, as Coach Mike Norvell put it, "dominated...in every phase." Memphis will try to get back on track Friday night against UConn. -- Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal

5. Houston (3-1, 1-0): In search of a spark on offense, the Cougars made a switch at quarterback with longtime backup Kyle Postma replacing Kyle Allen. Postma threw for 226 yards and a TD and ran for 81 yards as the offense continued to have its ups and downs in a 20-13 win over Temple. All eyes this week will be on the status of All-America DT Ed Oliver, who is dealing with an MCL sprain and is likely to be a game-time decision Saturday against SMU. -- Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle

6. SMU (4-1, 1-0): It wasn't pretty at times (11 penalties, inconsistent offense), but SMU walked away with a 49-28 win over Connecticut on Saturday. QB Ben Hicks completed 73 percent of his passes for 280 yards, four TDs and no interceptions, but Coach Chad Morris grew frustrated with some of Hicks' overthrows. Morris tried to light a spark for the offense by having backup DJ Gillins run the offense to start the second half. Morris ultimately decided Hicks gave the team the best chance to win at the time, but this position is one to watch moving forward, beginning Saturday against Houston. -- Adam Grosbard, Dallas Morning News

7. Tulane (2-2, 0-1): The Green Wave had an open date to gear up for a home game against Tulsa, which has beaten Tulane 11 of the past 12 years, winning nine by at least three TDs. For the first time in that stretch, though, Tulane is favored (by three points). This is really an important game for the Green Wave, 4-21 in league action since joining the AAC. A win gives Coach Willie Fritz the first tangible proof he is changing the culture of the program. -- Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate

8. Cincinnati (2-3, 0-1): A terrible start doomed the Bearcats in a 38-21 home loss to Marshall. UC trailed 24-0 by halftime, and three turnovers led to 21 Marshall points. The Bearcats TDs were scored by redshirt freshman RB Gerrid Doaks, true freshman RB Michael Warren II and true freshman WR Javan Hawes. Next: unbeaten UCF, at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. -- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

9. Tulsa (1-4, 0-1): For the third week in a row, the Hurricane lost a winnable game, falling 31-21 at home to Navy on Saturday. Tulsa built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before surrendering 31 unanswered points. Until the fourth quarter, Chad President had thrown for only 17 yards amid continued offensive struggles. With bowl eligibility slipping out of reach, Tulsa visits Tulane on Saturday to face a third consecutive option-based offense. -- Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

10. Temple (2-3, 0-2): The Owls showed some fight in Saturday’s 20-13 home loss to Houston. Trailing 20-0 after Houston scored on the opening second-half drive, Temple finally got its running game in gear and ran for a season-high 142 yards, including 150 in the second half after minus-8 in the first. Logan Marchi threw three interceptions for the second consecutive game. With little realistic chance of defending their AAC title, Temple now has to concentrate on becoming bowl-eligible. Saturday the Owls visit East Carolina, whom they defeated 37-10 in last year’s regular season finale to clinch the AAC East. -- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

11. East Carolina (1-4, 1-1): The Pirates fell to 1-4 thanks to a defense that still cannot find a 60-minute effort or enough stops to set the stage for wins. QB Thomas Sirk turned in his most complete effort with 300 yards passing and 87 more on the ground, but USF posted four unanswered scoring marches in the second half to put the Pirates away, 61-31. The game happened in front of ECU's smallest announced regular-season home crowd since 2006 (34,883), which does not bode well for Saturday's noon kickoff against fellow AAC East struggler Temple. -- Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector

12. Connecticut (1-3, 0-2): The Huskies represented themselves well in coming back to tie SMU on the first play of the fourth quarter, but fizzled from there, losing 49-28. The positives: Bryant Shirreffs has set a career high for passing yards in consecutive games (406 vs. ECU, 408 vs. SMU) and the UConn offense is humming. Four players have had 100-plus receiving yards in a game this season for UConn, but the defense remains in shambles. The Huskies are home Friday night against Memphis. -- Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 8:44pm]

    

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