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AAC Surprisingly Tight With a Month to Go

ucflouisville-wrIf there was one automatic BCS spot that most thought was a shoe in when the season started, it was the American Athletic Conference automatic bid. Most felt like the Louisville Cardinals would stroll into the AAC for their one season, go unbeaten, stroll on to a BCS Bowl game, and then move on to the ACC for next season where they would instantly challenge the Florida State Seminoles, Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies, etc for the ACC championship.

Funny thing though, there are a lot of football games between preseason and actually taking home the trophy. The Cardinals as well as the rest of the college football world have discovered the AAC has some pretty good teams. In fact, all but four teams in this conference are within one game of first place at the end of October. That’s six teams with one or fewer losses in the AAC going into next week’s games.

When the UCF Knights beat the Cardinals two weeks ago, most of their fans were making plans to either visit New Orleans or Miami for New Year’s. While their 62-17 win over the Connecticut Huskies may have done little to temper those expectations, perhaps the Knights fans had better hold off before making reservations at least for a couple of weeks. The Houston Cougars are still unbeaten in AAC play and looked very impressive in their 42-14 road win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Cougars host the 2-1 USF Bulls on Thursday night and if they win, they will visit Orlando a week from Saturday in a game the winner will be the only unbeaten team left in the conference. If Houston is that team, then they put everyone back in the race, including the Cards who will host the Cougars on November 16th. In the meantime, the Houston vs UCF game will be on the 9th in prime time. Who would have thought ESPN would be showing AAC games in prime time in November in a game not involving Louisville?

Also on the 9th we have a game between the SMU Mustangs and Cincinnati Bearcats in a battle of one-loss AAC teams. SMU has a bye this week while Cincy plays at the Memphis Tigers on Friday. The Tigers have close losses to both UCF and Houston so the Bearcats need to be on spoiler alert. If they win, that sets up a big game between the Mustangs and Bearcats where the winner stays in the race into mid-November.

So the AAC, the conference that was supposed to have no drama this year, is one of college football’s best races going into the final five weeks of the regualr season. That’s why we play the games on the field and not on paper.



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