Half of the 2023 season is in the books and hierarchies are starting to form in the AAC Football standings. Which teams have separated themselves from the rest so far?
At the risk of stirring the pot, I’m releasing my weekly AAC Football power rankings at roughly the midseason mark, complete with some comments explaining my rationale. The top three spots feel pretty chalky, as do the bottom two. Ranks four through 12, on the other hand, were a mess to sort through. It’s one big middle class as we reach the midway point of the season.
No Michael Pratt? No problem. The defending AAC champs held serve without their star quarterback on the field, potentially missing out on an upset against Ole Miss, but keeping their conference aspirations intact. They’re the frontrunner until someone can knock them off their perch.
The only blemish on an otherwise sterling resume for the Tigers was a road loss against a very good Missouri team that entered the weekend 5-0. The Tigers look like a complete team and rank in the top three in the conference in scoring offense and scoring defense.
The Mustangs have more or less held serve through their first five games with their only losses coming against Power 5 opponents, Oklahoma and TCU. They might not be tested for a while longer, but they’ve looked the part thus far, even if its come against the likes of ECU.
UTSA jumped up in these rankings this week by earning their first AAC win. With a healthy Frank Harris at quarterback, they’ll be able to trade touchdowns with anyone. It’s the defense that has question marks. The Roadrunners don’t look to be the same team they’ve been in years past, but they’re 1-0 in league play.
There’s no doubt USF was playing ahead of schedule through their first five games. The Bulls hung with Alabama and won their first conference games of the year shortly after, but a blowout loss to UAB proves they have work to do. That said, the upside is evident.
The only AAC team with a Power 5 win, Rice checks in at six because the Owls’ lows have been as bad as their highs have been good. A loss to a previously winless UConn team at home as a double-digit favorite doesn’t erase the upset win over Houston, but it does lead to some questions regarding which version of this team will show up each week.
FAU kept their season alive with a win over Tulsa this weekend, but an injury to quarterback Casey Thompson earlier in the year keeps realistic expectations in check. They’ve got talent, but it’s going to be an uphill climb with a backup quarterback.
The Midshipmen notched their first AAC win under new head coach Brian Newberry, beating North Texas, but they also looked feisty against USF and Memphis. The defense is a liability at the moment, but the triple option is humming and should help them rack up at least a few more wins.
Tulsa is .500, which isn’t all that bad for their first year under head coach Kevin Wilson, but they don’t have any quality wins so far, posting victories over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Northern Illinois and Temple. A win over Rice in their next game would be their best of the year, but its not as if the Owls have separated themselves too much from the pack.
Beating USF, one of the conference’s more impressive teams thus far, earned UAB some kudos this week, but it isn’t enough to erase a season that has been largely underwhelming. The Blazers have received more attention for the sideline antics of head coach Trent Dilfer than their wins, something that has to change for them to climb this list.
The offense is exciting. The defense is not. All that separates Temple from the team directly behind them in this rankings is more productive quarterback play. The Owls’ EJ Warner is third in the conference with 1,741 passing yards and second with 12 touchdown passes. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been enough to lead to wins.
12. North Texas
Just like Temple, North Texas is a team with a fun offense and not much to speak of on the other side of the ball. The Mean Green are allowing 39.8 points per game on defense, the worst mark in the AAC. It’s going to be hard for quarterback Chandler Morris to overcome that, even though he’s generally played well.
The departure of star quarterback Holton Ehlers has sent shockwaves through the ECU offense which remains dysfunctional through the first half of the season. Winners of eight games a year ago, the Pirates will be lucky to reach bowl eligibility at all after a terrible 1-5 start.
Charlotte head coach Biff Poggi was irate at AAC Media Days and scolded the assembled media for picking the 49ers to finish last in the league. Here we are halfway through the season and Poggi has already had at least one explosive postgame presser while his team ranks… last in the conference.
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