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Ranking AAC games for Week 9: Plenty on the line for contenders

It’s almost November, but seven teams from The American remain in the hunt for a chance to play in the conference championship game in five weeks.

Houston suffered its second conference loss of the season in the most shocking way possible against SMU, and South Florida failed to keep up with Temple. Both events totally reshaped the AAC outlook for the postseason.

With just a few more opportunities left on the regular season schedule, more than half of the conference’s members are still in contention. But after this weekend, that number could drastically diminish.

Here are all six AAC games for Week 9, ranked by importance and watchability:

6. SMU (3-4, 1-2) at Tulane (3-4, 0-3) — Saturday, Oct. 29, 4 p.m. ET (ESPNews)

In Year 2 of the Chad Morris project, SMU beat a top-11 team for the first time since 1983. Tulane has already matched its win total from 2015 in Willie Fritz’s first season with the school. In all reality, anything more from this point on would be gravy for two programs in rebuild mode.

5. UConn (3-5, 1-4) at East Carolina (2-5, 0-3) — Saturday, Oct. 29, noon ET (ESPNews)

Even having lost four of its last five, UConn has the best chance out of SMU, Tulane, and ECU to make a bowl game, but you can kiss that thought goodbye if the Huskies leave Greenville without a win.

4. Cincinnati (4-3, 1-3) at Temple (5-3, 3-1) — Saturday, Oct. 29, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBSSN)

The return of Gunner Kiel under center presents some intrigue for this Cincinnati team, which was in desperate need of a pulse at quarterback the first seven weeks of the season. If the Bearcats can get Kiel to play up to his potential, they’ll have a chance to win every single game from here on out. A win for Temple would not only make it bowl eligible for the third straight year, but would give it a clear path to repeat as the AAC East champion.

3. UCF (4-3, 2-1) at Houston (6-2, 3-2) — Saturday, Oct, 29, noon ET (ESPNU)

There no way Houston continues its mini-tailspin against UCF, right? With Navy sitting atop the West at 4-0, another loss would sink any chances of Tom Herman’s crew playing in the AAC title game. Luckily for the Cougars, they’re 11-0 at home since the start of last season.

2. Navy (5-1, 4-0) at South Florida (6-2, 3-1) — Friday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Though USF cannot afford another loss thanks to the sudden resurrection of Temple, Navy can still control its own destiny in the West without leaving Tampa as a victor. The Midshipmen will get Tulsa at home in Week 11 before a final stretch that includes East Carolina and SMU, both teams with losing records.

1. Tulsa (5-2, 2-1) at Memphis (5-2, 2-1) — Saturday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. ET (ESPNews)

The same can be said for both teams: Win, and you still have an excellent chance to compete for the West. (Do you see a theme here?) However, with Navy still on the future schedule, it’s Tulsa that can control its path to a championship appearance, though if the Middies slip in AAC play, Memphis can have the final word as a host to Houston in the finale.

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