(WTNH)–UConn football fans might feel like the program is #REStorred, but media members from across the American Athletic Conference aren’t convinced.
The Huskies ranked 11th out of 12 teams in the first weekly AAC power rankings, voted on by media in each of the schools’ markets.
South Florida, UConn’s opponent on Saturday, ranked No. 1 after two shaky wins to start the season. The Bulls kicked off early, during college football’s soft launch, a.k.a. “Week Zero” on August 26. They fell behind a perenially awful San Jose State team, 16-0, in the first quarter or their first game before pulling away, 42-22. Then, they trailed FCS program Stony Brook at halftime, 10-7, before rallying for a 31-17 win on September 2. Still, the media voted USF, the only AAC team ranked in the AP and Coaches’ national polls as well, No. 1 in the conference. The Bulls dropped from No. 19 to No. 21 in the AP poll after those two less-than-inspiring performances, though.
Navy, which blitzed Lane Kiffin’s “Last Chance U.” Florida Atlantic squad, 41-19, in week 1, was voted second in the poll. The Midshipmen embarassed FAU thanks to a 235-yard rushing performance by quarterback Zach Abey, which is an AAC record. They’ll take on Tulane in Week 2, so they’ve got a great chance to get off to another good start.
Memphis ranked third after escaping a rain-soaked opener against Louisiana-Monroe last Thursday, winning 37-29. The Tigers’ Tony Pollard helped the cause by returning a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
UCF is in at No. 4 after annihilating Florida International, 61-17 last Thursday. Quarterback McKenzie Milton racked up a career-high 360 yards passing, and the Knights amassed a ridiculous 587 yards of total offense in the game. Head coach Scott Frost said that the team’s performance reflected what they’d been doing in practice all summer. They may be a team to watch as the season goes on. UCF surprised everyone by rebounding from a zero-win season in 2015 by winning six games and reaching a bowl game last year. Frost has this program on the rise. They’ll take on Memphis on Saturday.
Houston saw its season opener at Texas-San Antonio postponed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. With the city and the region still recovering, the team, which has been practicing at the University of Texas in Austin, is chomping on the bit to get on the field for the first time. They’ll have the chance to do that on Saturday at Arizona. The Cougars, under new coach Major Applewhite, are trying to extend an impressive winning streak against Power Five opponenets to seven games. Something tells us they may finish the season ranked higher in these polls as well.
SMU and Tulsa tied for sixth place in the rankings. The Mustangs smoked FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin, 58-14, in Week 1, using three quarterbacks in the win. The competition will continue this week against North Texas, according to head coach Chad Morris. Tulsa was smacked around at No. 10 Oklahoma State last Thursday, 59-24, but showed promise with its high-flying offense. They’ve also got a QB competition between Chad President and Luke Skipper.
Temple was dominated at Notre Dame, 49-16, in its first game under new coach Geoff Collins. Not sure whether the game says more about the Irish or the Owls, but Notre Dame did rack up an obscene 606 yards of offense. Temple will get the chance to work out the kinks against Villanova on Saturday. Their former coach, Matt Rhule, didn’t exactly have the best opening week in his new job either, as Baylor lost to FCS school Liberty at home.
Tulane hammered Grambling, 43-14, in its season opener, but no one is sure what that means for the Green Wave. They’ll get a real test on Saturday against Navy.
UConn , of course, edged FCS squad Holy Cross, 27-20, after new (and old) coach Randy Edsall changed quarterbacks in the second half, inserting new (and old) QB Bryant Shirreffs. He led the Huskies back from a 20-7 deficit.
East Carolina finished dead last in the poll after getting shellacked by FCS squad James Madison, 34-14, at home, to open the season in what must have been a soul-crushing game for local ECU radio host Clip Brock. That dude has to be questioning just about every one of his life choices right now. In the Pirates’ defense, James Madison did win the FCS national title last year, so there’s that. Speaking of questioning life choices, why did the school fire former head coach (and current Oklahoma assistant) Ruffin McNeill again? It was a hastily-made (and poor) decision then, and it looks even worse now.