The Rise of the American Athletic Conference

In the age of the modern college football playoff system which matches up four teams with the best resumes, it’s easy to forget about schools not in a power five conference. Even though the playoff system is in its infancy, it is widely understood amongst fans and analysts that these teams will come out of the Pac 12, Big 10, Big12, SEC, or ACC. No one expected that half way through the season and after most non-conference games have been played, that three teams from the American Athletic Conference would still remain undefeated. Let’s now delve into what can unfold over the next couple months.

Sitting at #22 in the AP poll the Temple Owls have the most intriguing game yet to be played of any AAC team the rest of the season when they travel to Notre Dame Halloween night. Coming into the game with a 7-0 record for the first time in school history the Owls look to not only boost their resume but the resume of the conference as a whole.  With an early season win against Penn State, Temple can make a major push for a top 10 ranking with a win over Notre Dame. With those resume building wins and an AAC Championship it would be extremely hard to keep the Owls out of the playoff come January!

The other two teams in the AAC equation are the University of Houston and the University of Memphis. Each team has a 6-0 record and shares a lead in the West division. The Houston Cougars may have the most tradition in the conference but also have the most to prove. With a weak non-conference schedule the Cougars need to finish the year unblemished and beat an undefeated Temple squad in the Conference Championship. If this unfolds the Playoff committee will have no choice but to consider the Cougars.

The Biggest surprise in the AAC, and maybe the country, are the Memphis Tigers. The Tigers jumped onto the major college football scene for the first time in years when they beat SEC power Ole Miss earlier in the month. Even though Memphis is the highest ranked of the trio at 18 they still have the toughest conference schedule left to play with back to back road games at Houston and Temple next month.

At this point, you have to give Temple the best shot at receiving a playoff bid with big upcoming games against Notre Dame and Memphis being played at home. If these schools continue their winning ways they’ll force committee members to give them a solid look. Moving forward, it’ll be fascinating to see how far up these teams can move in the polls and whether they receive the praise they deserve. We’ll have some of these questions answered when the Fighting Irish come to Philadelphia Halloween night!

To check out other American Athletic teams and schools from other conferences, check out our Campus Team Shop!

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