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Houston at Rutgers is top AAC game in Week 9

What a difference a week makes. Last week, the question was whether Louisville would get enough help to possibly squeeze into the national title game. This week, the question is whether the Cardinals can maintain their focus now that their longshot title hopes are gone.

Things we learned

From Jadeveon Clowney returning to form to Florida State's complete dismantling of Clemson, here are the lessons learned from the college football weekend. **More ...**

UCF's offensive line dominated the final 20 minutes last Friday, and the Knights came away with a huge upset at Louisville, becoming the team to beat in the AAC. Yes, a program that went 5-7 in 2011 -- and had to score two TDs in a nine-second span with less than two minutes left to beat Memphis two weeks ago -- has a BCS berth within its grasp.

You could excuse the Knights if they relax a bit after last week's win, the biggest in school history. Good news: Even if they relax a bit, they should cruise past a bad Connecticut team this week.

Here is a look at all the games involving league teams this week, ranked from worst game to best:

4. Temple at SMU, Saturday, 3 p.m. ET

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: Temple is coming off its first win of the season, over Army. Owls sophomore LB Tyler Matakevich (6-foot-1, 230 pounds) leads the nation with 95 tackles and is averaging 13.6 stops per game. SMU has a potent passing attack headed by senior QB Garrett Gilbert (6-4, 223), who is averaging 349.3 passing yards per game; he has 11 TD passes and six interceptions. Mustangs senior WR Jeremy Johnson (6-0, 179), who could get a look as a third-day draft pick, is third nationally with 62 receptions, for 735 yards and four TDs.

3. Connecticut at UCF, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, AAC syndication/ESPN GamePlan

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: UConn junior ILB Yawin Smallwood (6-4, 237) is a big-timer who is averaging 12.8 tackles per game. Expect to see him meet up a few times with UCF junior TB Storm Johnson (6-0, 215), who has rushed for 584 yards and eight TDs. Johnson is a tough inside runner who has the speed to turn the corner. UCF junior QB Blake Bortles (6-4, 230) has a strong arm and is a dangerous runner.

2. Louisville at USF, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Rating: 1.5 stars

The skinny: Louisville junior QB Teddy Bridgewater (6-3, 196) remains high on almost every draft board; he is averaging 316.1 passing yards per game with 20 TDs and two interceptions and is completing 72.0 percent of his passes. Junior WR DeVante Parker (6-3, 209) is his favorite target. USF's offense has been abysmal, but the Bulls' defense has shown some signs of life. Highly touted sophomore DE Aaron Lynch (6-6, 244) had his first sack of the season in last week's win over Cincinnati. UCF put a lot of pressure on Bridgewater last week; can Lynch and the Bulls follow suit?

1. Houston at Rutgers, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN News

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: The winner has a good shot at finishing in the top three in the league. Rutgers' secondary has been shredded by every team that has made it a priority to throw; the Cougars will make it a priority to throw. Houston rising-star sophomore WR Deontay Greenberry (6-3, 198) is third in the league with 50 receptions and is tied for third with five TD catches. Rutgers sophomore WR Leonte Carroo (6-1, 200) has just 16 catches, but he is tied for the league lead with seven TD receptions. Just imagine what he and junior WR Brandon Coleman (6-6, 220) could do with a high-level quarterback. Houston has rushed for just 86 yards combined in the past two games; the Cougars won't win this unless they're in the 120s in rushing yards.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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