After Houston won at Louisville and East Carolina defeated Virginia Tech, the Cincinnati win added further fuel to the argument that the AAC — a Group of Five conference — is a superior one to the least powerful of the Power 5 conference. Consider this: Not only did Houston and ECU build the resume with wins over two perennial ACC powers, the Cincinnati win came over an unbeaten Miami team that was considered to be a serious contender for the ACC title. Cincinnati’s win doesn’t preclude the Hurricanes from winning the ACC, but it was a sobering reminder that the Bearcats were not even able to beat two AAC teams, Temple and Memphis, who will not have shots to take down ACC foes. Both the Owls and Tigers fried bigger fish earlier this season, taking out Penn State and Kansas of the Big 10 and Big 12.
The latest win featured a potential ACC champion taken down by double digits by a team that might be considered a second-tier AAC squad. The Bearcats did it with a backup quarterback, Hayden Moore, who was subbing for an injured NFL-level talent in Gunner Kiel. If that doesn’t prove the AAC’s superiority this year, it is a nice Exhibit A to the argument. That doesn’t even count Navy’s 45-21 win over East Carolina, proving that Navy is a better team than the team which took down Virginia Tech.
This all has to be heady stuff for a league which is essentially a startup, born out of the rubble of the old Big East. So far, the football half of the league does not appear to be hurt by the defections of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers or Louisville; on the other hand, it seems to be enhanced by the additions like Houston and East Carolina.
This year, with a lot of evidence already in, it’s hard to make any case for the ACC being a better league in football.