Welcome to the American, where a bottom-feeder can beat anyone on any given week. The Big East was known for head-scratching losses, and it seems this new conference will carry the torch well. A plethora of teams had early season scares to overmatched teams, while one squad was unable to prevent the upset. How does that affect the rankings? Take a look:
1. Louisville Cardinals (5-0, 1-0) LW: 1
Last week: Won @ Temple (0-5, 0-2), 30-7
Another week, another walkthrough for Teddy Bridgewater. You'd have to think that these cupcakes will make the Heisman candidate weak when he plays legitimate competition (at least this blogger hopes so). Louisville's first half schedule against overmatched foes has led to a #6 nationally ranked defense. Is that ranking real or fake? We'll find out Thursday night.
2. UCF Knights (4-1, 1-0) LW: 2
Last week: Won @ Memphis (1-3, 0-1), 24-17
George O'Leary's squad must have been suffering from an emotional hangover following the South Carolina game. It took a late interception off of a halfback pass to get UCF the win over Memphis. The Tigers held the Knights of Orlando 200 yards below their average output, and Blake Bortles was kept out of the end zone and had less than a 50% completion percentage. UCF is off this week before facing Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
3. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1, 1-0) LW: 3
Last week: Won @ SMU (1-4, 0-1), 55-52
Another American conference game, another close upset. The Scarlet Knights had a 35-20 lead on the Mustangs with 12 minutes left in the fourth before nearly blowing it at the end. If the players and coaches were caught looking ahead to the Louisville game, they better hope if pays off.
4. Houston Cougars (4-0, 1-0) LW: 5
Last week: Inactive
Last week I wrote that the Bearcats should get used to this spot. The suitcase wasn't even opened against USF. The Cougars benefit from Cincinnati's loss and advance without even playing a down. Houston should hold serve for at least another week here, as they get Memphis at home this Saturday.
5. SMU Mustangs (1-4, 0-1) LW: 6
Last week: Lost v. Rutgers (4-1, 1-0), 52-55
The Mustangs put forth a great effort against the Scarlet Knights last Saturday, but ultimately fell short in triple overtime. Garrett Gilbert was virtually perfect in the fourth and benefitted from a questionable Rutgers gameplan. He was also responsible for one of the most ridiculous two-point conversions this season. SMU gets a well-deserved bye before heading to Memphis to face the Tigers.
6. Cincinnati Bearcats (3-2, 0-1) LW: 4
Last week: Lost @ USF (1-4, 1-0), 20-26
It was an emotional day for Cincinnati, as the team was still grieving for their lost teammate, Ben Glick. The team came out onto the field two hours early to hold a team prayer before the game. No team will ever use that as an excuse for a loss, but I find it hard to believe that it didn't affect their performances somewhat, which is entirely understandable. Nevertheless, USF was winless against both good and bad competition, so this loss is a definite setback to the season. The Bearcats have a chance for a bounce-back game hosting Temple on Friday.
7. Memphis Tigers (1-3, 0-1) LW: 7
Last week: Lost v. UCF (4-1, 1-0), 17-24
The Tigers blew a solid chance for a season-defining win against Blake Bortles and the Knights, but a halfback pass led to an end zone interception late in the game that sealed the fate for Memphis. The next matchup for Justin Fuente's squad is an interesting one, and not just for Memphis. Houston is undefeated so far this season, but haven't played stiff competition. Memphis came very close to upsetting one of the top teams in the American. How good or bad is each team? We'll find out this Saturday.
8. USF Bulls (1-4, 1-0) LW: 9
Last week: Won v. Cincinnati (3-2, 0-1), 26-20
Bulls fans might complain about this ranking, but truthfully, we're not sure if the win against Cincinnati was a true upset or closer to reality. USF has more substantial data to show that they are indeed a weak team in the American, and losses to FAU and McNeese State are proof. Willie Taggart has a chance at a 2-0 conference start when they make the trip to Connecticut this Saturday.
9. Temple Owls (0-5, 0-2) LW: 8
Last week: Lost v. Louisville (5-0, 1-0), 7-30
Temple was so good in the loss against Louisville, they caused the voters to knock the Cardinals down a peg from #7 to #8. The Owls don't get a breather, as they have to travel to Cincinnati to face an angry Bearcats team. When will Temple get its first win? Temple is giving up 190 yards per game on the ground, so I don't think it's Army. They are 120th in the nation against the pass, so I don't think it's SMU. The Owls might have to wait until the last two weeks of the season, when they play Connecticut and Memphis in back to back weeks.
10. Connecticut Huskies (0-4) LW: 10
Last week: Inactive
The Huskies better have used their bye week effectively. UConn gets to host a very beatable USF team at Rentschler Field this Saturday before going through a gauntlet of American teams: @Cincinnati, @UCF, and then home against Louisville. Many teams get fired up after having their head coach canned, so look for the Huskies to play with a chip on their shoulders.