Despite minimal changes yet again toward the top of this week’s Group of Five Power Poll, there were some shake-ups toward the bottom of the list.
Let’s dive into this week’s poll.
1. Cincinnati, last week: 1
It’s no surprise that Cincinnati sits atop this list after opening AAC play with a 31-21 win over Tulsa. Since an opening loss to Arkansas, Cincinnati is 4-0 with four double-digit victories. Luke Fickell’s team is the AAC favorite, and arguably the top contender to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
2. James Madison, last week: 2
JMU followed up a comeback win over Appalachian State with a 40-13 thrashing of Texas State. The Dukes (4-0) controlled the trenches in the blowout of the Bobcats, holding Texas State to 246 total yards and putting up 460 yards on offense, including 203 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Four of JMU’s next five games will come on the road.
3. UCF, last week: 4
The Knights outscored SMU 31-6 in the second half Wednesday en route to a 41-19 victory. SMU made mistakes, but UCF looked like the better overall team for significant stretches. At 4-1 overall and 1-0 in league play, UCF is in good position in the AAC title race. Games against ECU on Oct. 22 and Cincinnati on Oct. 29 figure to be important.
4. Coastal Carolina, last week: 3
The Chanticleers improved to 5-0 with a 34-30 win over Georgia Southern, capping off the win with an impressive rushing touchdown.
Coastal Carolina hasn’t looked unstoppable by any means, but it keeps winning, and college football betting odds peg it as a two-touchdown favorite over Lousiana Monroe this weekend. Coastal could secure bowl eligibility before mid-October, and quarterback Grayson McCall looked plenty healthy (335 passing yards and four total touchdowns) in Saturday’s narrow victory.
5. App State, last week: 5
App State jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and destroyed The Citadel 49-0. It’s a nice bounce-back win after the Mountaineers’ collapse against JMU. The schedule for the next few weeks is extremely favorable, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see App State vault itself back into New Year’s six contention throughout October.
6. UNLV, last week: 9
A 4-1 start has people paying attention, but bigger tests are on their way, starting Friday at San Jose State. The Runnin’ Rebels next three games are against San Jose State, Air Force, and Notre Dame. Winning even one of those games would be solid, and it would set UNLV up to secure bowl eligibility for only the third time since 2000.
7. Troy, last week: unranked
Underestimate the Trojans at your own risk. Troy sits at 3-2 after a road win against a solid Western Kentucky squad. Troy’s only losses are to App State (on a Hail Mary) and No. 9 Ole Miss. The team has notable wins over Western Kentucky and Marshall, making them a true contender in the Sun Belt West.
8. South Alabama, last week: unranked
The Jaguars came one point shy of taking down a currently undefeated UCLA team, and that’s their only blemish. A road win at Louisiana gave South Alabama a nice start to Sun Belt play, and it joins Troy as a legitimate contender in the seemingly wide-open SBC West race.
9. Air Force, last week: unranked
The Falcons haven’t played a daunting schedule, but they’re 4-1 after a 13-10 win over Navy last week. They travel to Utah State this week, which is an ideal opportunity to improve to 5-1. Offensive consistency may be a focus moving forward, as Air Force has three games of 40+ points scored and two games with fewer than 20 points scored.
10. Tulane, last week: unranked
I considered Memphis toward the bottom of this poll, but I like Tulane’s body of work more. The win over Kansas State looks good, and beating Houston is no joke either. We may need to take Tulane seriously as an AAC contender.
Dropped out: Western Kentucky, SMU, UAB, Middle Tennessee