The American almost had its nightmare scenario come true. Conference leader UCF was down late against 1-8 Temple before a ridiculous one-handed catch changed the tides in the Knights' favor. The BCS bid was anything but decided on Saturday, as Cincinnati and Louisville both won to remain one game behind Central Florida. Meanwhile, cellar-dwellers USF and UConn continued to lose. On to the rankings:
1. UCF Knights (8-1, 5-0) LW: 1
Last week: Won @ Temple (1-9, 0-6), 39-36
Temple QB P.J. Walker threw for a career-high 384 yards on 26 of 44 passing with four touchdowns and only one interception. He is a true freshman. Even with all of that, Temple couldn't seal the deal against the heavily favored Knights of Orlando. On a scramble play, UCF QB Blake Bortles found a wide open J.J. Worton for a ridiculous catch.
UCF has Rutgers, USF, and SMU left to play, so chances are good that the Knights will end up with the bid.
2. Louisville Cardinals (9-1, 5-1) LW: 2
Last week: Won v. Houston (7-3, 4-2), 20-13
The final score might not seem impressive, but closer examination reveals some good numbers: Houston QB John O'Korn limited to 16 of 35 passing for a measly 121 yards, with the entire Louisville defense giving up only 195 total yards. Houston averages 442 yards per game, so Charlie Strong is definitely pleased with his team's performance (at least on defense). As for that Teddy Bridgewater Heisman campaign? *crickets*
3. Cincinnati Bearcats (8-2, 5-1) LW: 4
Last week: Won @ Rutgers (5-4, 2-3), 52-17
The Bearcats unleashed two years' worth of frustration on the Scarlet Knights, exploding to a 38-7 lead before halftime. Brendon Kay and the Cincinnati offense had no trouble whatsoever moving the ball on a weak Rutgers defense, and QB Gary Nova was back to his usual self. The Bearcats still have their two toughest tests to go, with Houston and Louisville standing in the way of another conference championship.
4. Houston Cougars (7-3, 4-2) LW: 3
Last week: Lost @ Louisville (9-1, 5-1), 13-20
It hasn't been easy for the Cougars the past two weeks, having to travel to the best two teams' home stadiums (UCF, Louisville). In each game, Houston was held well below their season average for total yards on offense. It's difficult to win on the road with a true freshman at QB, let alone two weeks in a row to the preseason #2 and #1 teams, respectively. The Cougars are also hurt by the fact that Cincinnati has yet to play Louisville and doesn't draw UCF on the schedule this year.
5. SMU Mustangs (4-5, 3-2) LW: 6
Last week: Won v. UConn (0-9, 0-5), 38-21
SMU takes advantage of a reeling Rutgers team this week by advancing up the standings. You have to give credit to former Longhorn QB Garrett Gilbert. The transfer from Texas had another monster game, throwing for 353 yards on 33 of 52 passing, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. With games against USF, Houston, and UCF left, it'll take at least one upset to become bowl eligible.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-4, 2-3) LW: 5
Last week: Lost v. Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1), 17-52
Another blowout loss for the Scarlet Knights lands them in sixth these rankings. Some might scoff that SMU is ranked higher than RU even though Rutgers defeated SMU in week seven, but few would argue that right now, SMU could very well beat Rutgers if both teams played again, and it probably wouldn't be close. With the way Gilbert is playing (and he almost engineered the comeback in week seven), I would be hard pressed to believe that the Rutgers defense could do anything to stop Gilbert.
7. Memphis Tigers (3-6, 1-4) LW: 7
Last week: Won @ USF (2-7, 2-3), 23-10
The Tigers notched their first conference win in league history on Saturday, prevailing over the struggling USF Bulls. Despite being outgained in total yards by the Bulls, including a paltry 59 passing yards by QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis was able to defeat USF by forcing five Bulls turnovers. USF QB Mike White struggled against a defense that is actually quite good. Memphis has the 21st ranked scoring defense in the country, and it showed on Saturday.
8. Temple Owls (1-9, 0-6) LW: 9
Last week: Lost v. UCF (8-1, 5-0), 36-39
Poor Temple. P.J. Walker continues to make strides as a program-defining player, but still comes up short. After leading the Owls to a lead over the Knights in the fourth quarter, the Owl defense failed to make a stop when they needed to and gave up some late plays that led to an eventual UCF game-winning kick. With games against Connecticut and Memphis waiting, the Owls have a chance to triple their win total.
9. USF Bulls (2-7, 2-3) LW: 8
Last week: Lost v. Memphis (3-6, 1-4), 10-23
The Bulls continue to struggle at the quarterback position, with Mike White throwing four picks in a loss to Memphis. With the Bulls ranking near-last in most statistical categories, you have to wonder what happened to all that talent built up over the years.
10. Connecticut Huskies (0-9, 0-5) LW: 10
Last week: Lost @ SMU (4-5, 3-2), 21-38
UConn was in it for most of the game against the Mustangs, but failed to mount a successful comeback to prevent another loss. The Huskies were within one touchdown until about 3:50 left in the fourth. With three games left in the season, time is running out for UConn to get that elusive W.