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NCAA Football American Athletic Conference

Power Ranking Every AAC Football Team Heading into 2014

AAC Football: Power Ranking the Conference for 2014

AAC
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Just a year after it began, the AAC once again goes through major change as it enters the second year. This fall the league will be without the Louisville Cardinals and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who left the AAC for the ACC and the Big Ten, respectively. However, three teams join from Conference USA, including the East Carolina Pirates, the Tulane Green Wave and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Here are power rankings for the new 11-team AAC.

11. Memphis Tigers

Memphis
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11. Memphis Tigers

Memphis
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The worst of the worst. Memphis has won just 12 games in the last five years combined. That's with seven wins in the last two years. The Tigers went 1-7 in the AAC last season and while the top of the conference is affected with Louisville leaving, Memphis is worse than all three new entrants from Conference USA. It'll be another long season for the Tigers.

10. Temple Owls

Temple
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10. Temple Owls

Temple
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After going 26-12 from 2009-11, the Temple Owls have fallen back to their usual reality, suffering through a 2-10, 1-7 season a year ago. The new entrants into the league don't do the Owls any favors, either. It's a long rebuilding job to get Temple back to respectability and it'd be surprising if the Owls took major steps toward that in 2014.

9. Connecticut Huskies

Connecticut
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9. Connecticut Huskies

Connecticut
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Remember last year when Connecticut was 0-2 and then had a home game against Michigan and almost upset the Wolverines, falling by a narrow 24-21 score? No, you probably don't, because the rest of the Huskies' season was a disaster. UConn was 0-9 before late wins against Temple, Rutgers and Memphis. With Rutgers gone and the other two teams at the bottom of the league, the Huskies really didn't accomplish much in that streak.

8. Tulane Green Wave

Tulane
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8. Tulane Green Wave

Tulane
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The first of the AAC's debut schools, Tulane went 5-3 in Conference USA last season and finished 7-6 overall. The Green Wave even got to the New Orleans Bowl, losing on its home field to Louisiana-Lafayette, 24-21. Tulane were 101st last season in both passing and rushing yards. Tulane was to open Yulman Stadium, its new home, vs. Georgia Tech on Sept. 6, but that game has been canceled as the venue may not be ready.

7. South Florida Bulls

South Florida
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7. South Florida Bulls

South Florida
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For a while, it looked like South Florida was going to be the "other" Florida school that would rise up to challenge the Big 3 (Florida State, Miami, Florida) for supremacy in the Sunshine State. But the Bulls saw the UCF Knights breeze past them last season, on their way to a 1-loss season and a Fiesta Bowl win. South Florida went 2-10, 2-6 AAC last season and face stiffer competition in 2014. USF was 108th in rushing; 118th in passing in 2013.

6. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Tulsa
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6. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Tulsa
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The 2013 season was Tulsa's worst in 10 years, and now the Golden Hurricane leave Conference USA for the AAC, which will be tougher. But Tulsa is a program that has won 10 or more games four times in the last seven seasons, and it stands to figure that last year might have been a blip and the Golden Hurricane will get things straight in 2014.

5. UCF Knights

UCF
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5. UCF Knights

UCF
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Led by quarterback Blake Bortles, Central Florida enjoyed a dream 13-1 season. The Knights won nine straight games to end the year, finishing it off with a 52-42 victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights' only loss was by three points to South Carolina at home, and they won at Penn State and Louisville. Replacing Bortles is difficult and a regression is very likely this season for Central Florida.

4. SMU Mustangs

SMU
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4. SMU Mustangs

SMU
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Having finely reached respectability in 2009 for the first time since returning from its death penalty in the 1980s, SMU struggled in 2013 and had its first losing season in five years. But the Mustangs went 4-4 in the AAC and lost by a total of 10 points to Rutgers, Cincinnati, and UCF. SMU was better than its record indicated and the Mustangs shouldn't be underestimated in the AAC this season.

3. East Carolina Pirates

ECU
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3. East Carolina Pirates

ECU
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One of the nation's most entertaining teams (for what they score and they give up), the East Carolina Pirates are finally in a decent league as they join the AAC in 2014. ECU went 10-3, 6-2 in Conference USA last season, averaging more than 40 points a game and finishing 11th in the nation in passing yards. There aren't a ton of great defenses in the AAC, and East Carolina's offensive attack should fit right in and be successful.

2. Houston Cougars

Houston
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2. Houston Cougars

Houston
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One of the most recognizable programs in the AAC with Louisville and Rutgers gone, the Cougars are still trying to lift back up to the heights it reached when Kevin Sumlin was the coach and Case Keenum was the quarterback. Houston went 8-5, 5-3 AAC last season, but didn't notch any real notable wins. The Cougars then fell, 41-24, to Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Houston was 20th in scoring defense last season.

1. Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati
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1. Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati
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With the departure of Louisville, there is no better "program" in the AAC now than the Cincinnati Bearcats. Through coaching changes and losing players to the NFL, the Bearcats have won at least 10 games in five of the last seven seasons, and they won nine games last year. Cincinnati gave up just 21 PPG in 2013 (14th in the nation) and with Louisville gone and Bortles drafted away from UCF, the Bearcats are the clear AAC favorites in 2014.