American Athletic Conference In The Spotlight
Quiz question, hotshot. What FBS conference has the most undefeated teams? Okay, okay, that’s sort of a trick question because there are three conferences that have three undefeated teams.
I’m sure many of you guessed the Big 12 and you’d be right; Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State are all undefeated.
I’m sure many of you guessed the B1G and you’d also be right; Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa all have a goose egg in the L column.
But, that third conference, come on, now, what can you give me?
Pac-12? Nope. No team is unbeaten, actually.
SEC? No. Only LSU remains undefeated.
ACC? Again, nice try, but Clemson is the only team in the league without a blemish.
The answer? It’s the American Athletic Conference with three unbeaten teams, just like the Big 12 and the B1G.
Temple began the year with a resounding triumph over Penn State and came from behind in the fourth quarter last Thursday night to beat East Carolina on the road. Head coach Matt Rhule has the Owls at 7-0 for the first time in school history. Even though the biggest test of the season will be on Saturday as Notre Dame visits, the Owls have overachieved in a major way this season.
Memphis is also 7-0 in the AAC West and is third in the nation in scoring offense averaging 48.9 points per game. Justin Fuente arrived in 2012 and immediately turned the Memphis program around, with the help of future NFL star QB Paxton Lynch. The Tigers had five wins in the three years prior to Fuente’s arrival and after last week’s win over Tulsa, Fuente’s Tigers have 24 W’s in less than four years. The Tigers have home games against Tulane and Navy prior to a matchup with the third undefeated team in the AAC.
That would be the Houston Cougars, 7-0 this year under the leadership of first year head coach Tom Herman. The Cougars are ranked as high as 18th in the national polls and completely obliterated UCF last week in Orlando 59-10. QB Greg Ward Jr. has put up monster numbers in Herman’s offense and has many in the city praising his performance. The Cougars will get an enormous test this week facing a Vanderbilt defense that is stingy in the points allowed department.
It’s hard to say whether all three will remain undefeated before a November 14th matchup between Memphis and UH in H-Town at TDECU Stadium. However, that’s not really the way to assess the success of these three programs this season. Although many prognosticators expected each program to have decent seasons, all three have gone above expectations with wins over Penn State, Ole Miss and Louisville out of conference. Wins over Notre Dame (Temple) and Vanderbilt (Houston) will enhance the spotlight placed on the AAC going forward.
That said, College Game Day is going to be in Philadelphia this weekend. Is there any bigger stamp of approval?
Nope, not at all.