By Lucas Owens
Week 2 in the American conference was full of blowouts, but this week shows promise of being far more competitive. To start, conference play finally kicks off as Navy visits ECU, and #17 UCF is shown a big test when they host Stanford in Orlando. Houston has #20 Washington State in a big matchup at NRG Stadium, and Temple plays host to a #21 Maryland team coming off two huge victories. With that stated, let’s get started on this week’s action.
Houston (+9) vs. #20 Washington State
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX. Friday, September 13 at 8:15 PM CST
Houston got off easy last week after playing a great Oklahoma team, but their schedule picks up again on Friday when they go to the home of the Texans to play Washington State. Washington State’s offense this year has been consistently electric, scoring 58 against New Mexico State and 59 against Northern Colorado. So, the key to this game for Houston will be strong defensive play while also taking advantage of the Wazzu defense. If Houston can hold Washington State to anywhere close to what they held Prairie View A&M to last week, then they should be able to pull of the upset and come away with a victory.
Prediction: Houston (35) – Washington State (38)
Temple (-7.5) vs. #21 Maryland
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA. Saturday, September 14 at 11:00 AM CST
The Owls of Temple University had a buy last week, so they should be able to come into this incredible matchup strong. However, the Maryland Terrapins come in fiery hot after destroying then-ranked Syracuse 63-20. Temple had a field day with Bucknell in week 1, but this game presents the first real test for Rod Carey as the new head coach of the Owls. This matchup should come down to how well QB Anthony Russo can handle the Terrapin defense, as he has been hit or miss with good defenses in the past. If he performs anywhere near what he did in the three week stretch last year of Cincy, UCF and Houston, then the Owls, much like Houston, could pull off an upset.
Prediction: Temple (42) – Maryland (38)
Cincinnati (-16.5) vs. Miami OH
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH. Saturday, September 14 at 11:00 AM CST
So, the Bearcats’ trip up to Columbus did not go exactly as planned. Justin Fields had a field day with Cincy’s defense, but hopefully for this week goes very differently for Cincinnati. The Bearcats are returning home to face off against another in-state school, the Miami of Ohio Redhawks. Cincy enters as heavy favorites, and rightly so, as Miami OH has struggled mightily on the offensive front at times, and that looks as it will not change this year. Expect the Bearcats to come out hot behind Russo and bounce back from their week 2 loss
Prediction: Cincinnati (42) – Miami OH (14)
#17 UCF (-7.5) vs. Stanford
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Fl. Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 PM CST
In some more big action this week, the Knights of UCF will play host to big time program Stanford. Stanford did not have a good week 2 at all against USC, but that is just the more reason to be afraid of them. Stanford under David Shaw has never been known to go on bad stretches, so I would expect them to come off very fiery. On the other hand, UCF has dominated both of their opponents this season, but neither are close to what Stanford is. Stanford’s defense represents a huge challenge for the Knights, which held a good Northwestern team to 17 points before giving up 45 to USC. The question of this game is what Stanford comes out, and if UCF can successfully counter that behind either Dillon Gabriel or Brandon Wimbush.
Prediction: UCF (35) – Stanford (28)
Tulsa (+14) vs. Oklahoma State
Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK. Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 PM CST
Tulsa continues the slate of American conference games against Power-6 opponents when they host Oklahoma State this weekend. The Golden Hurricane had a good trip out west when they beat San Jose State, but this test will be huge for the Tulsa defense. Oklahoma State has scored more than 50 in both of their games this season, but Tulsa’s defense has held a team with a good offense in Michigan State to 28. But, while Tulsa keeps steadily improving as a program, I think Oklahoma State’s offense is just too powerful for their defense as it stands now, and unless their offense takes a big step up, I do not see the Golden Hurricane winning this one.
Prediction: Tulsa (21) – Oklahoma State (35)
ECU @ Navy (-7)
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD. Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 PM CST
Finally, we get to the start of American conference play. This one should be quite the doozy, as both teams beat up on FCS teams in their last matchups and both rely a lot on their running game. For ECU, the key to this matchup should be QB Holton Ahlers, as he should keep taking steps up from his first two performances, which have left a lot to be wanted. For Navy, they just need to keep to their triple option attack against a team that relies on a hurry up offense. The Midshipmen should spread the ball around, and maybe even attempt a few passes while they are at it.
Prediction: ECU (10) – Navy (24)
Memphis (-19) @ South Alabama
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL. Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 PM CST
The Tigers beat up on Southern last week, and this week looks to be more of the same. Memphis should look to this game as a bit of a tune up while also playing a good opponent that only lagged behind a then ranked Nebraska by two scores. The spotlight on this game should be how the Memphis defense performs, as after a strong performance in week 1 against Ole Miss they lagged a little in the game against Southern. The Memphis offense should continue to roll though, and I do not foresee this one being very close.
Prediction: Memphis (42) – South Alabama (21)
USF vs. South Carolina State (No line)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL. Saturday, September 14 at 5:00 PM CST
USF has lost 8 games in a row. They began last year 7-0. What has happened to the Bulls under Charlie Strong is beginning to become cataclysmic. his game, unless things go absolutely terribly wrong, should be able to set USF on the right track again. After their first game against #19 Wisconsin went terribly wrong, the Bulls bounced back and lost to Georgia Tech by a fumble in the end zone. USF needs to come out in a big way in this one, and get things set again and get their first win of the season.
Prediction: USF (49) – South Carolina State (10)
SMU (-17) vs. Texas State
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX. Saturday, September 14 at 6:00 PM CST
Shane Buchele and the SMU Mustangs had quite the performance last week against North Texas at home, and this week’s matchup against Texas State looks to be more of the same. Texas State has been woeful this year, but those woes will most likely continue when they visit Dallas. SMU’s offense behind Buchele has been electric to start off the year and looks to have no signs of slowing down. SMU was in the running for the AAC west title last year, so I would look for the Mustangs to continue strong and win this one at home.
Prediction: SMU (56) – Texas State (14)
Tulane vs. Missouri State (No Line)
The nightcap to this week’s AAC action comes in the form of a fun Tulane Green Wave team facing off against an FCS opponent from just a few hours away from the KCOU office in Columbia. Tulane was able to hold #10 Auburn to just 24 last week, so I would not expect them to let Missouri State’s offense do any better. The Green Waves’ offense, on the other hand, should come out fiery after being held to just six last week, especially QB Justin McMillan, who I would expect to have a great game against an FCS defense. Sorry to any Missouri State fans who might be reading, but I do not see this one being close at all.
Prediction: Tulane (42) – Missouri State (7)
Game of the Week: #17 UCF vs. Stanford
The UCF Knights usually host a Power-6, non-conference team every year, but none have been of the quality that Stanford is in a while. UCF and Stanford should have a very fun one to watch and I would definitely do if you can, as UCF’s culture around big games is a sight to be seen.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org