By Lucas Owens
Never this year has the American Athletic Conference gotten this much interest. The reason: College GameDay is headed to Memphis for No. 15 SMU @ No. 24 Memphis! While that matchup is certainly very interesting, there are plenty of other fun games this week.
Navy (-27) @ UCONN
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Conn. Friday, November 1 at 7:00 PM CST
The first AAC game in November comes to us in this game, and it looks like a fantastic opportunity for Navy to get a large win. Yes, UCONN did win their first game of the season last week, but that was against UMASS. UMASS had only one win, against an Akron team with exactly zero. Navy is one bad third quarter away from being undefeated right now. Not only that, but quarterback Malcolm Perry has been improving constantly and shows no signs of slowing down. Navy’s triple option will pose countless problems for the Huskies’ defense, and I do not think their offense is going to be powerful enough to keep up with the Midshipmen on the other side. With that, Navy will most likely cruise their way to a huge win.
Prediction: Navy 42 – 10 UCONN
Houston (+22) @ UCF
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Fla. Saturday, November 2 at 11:00 AM CST
While Houston did have a strong performance against SMU just a week ago, this matchup will likely be very different for the Cougars. Quarterback Clayton Tune is still getting used to his role at Houston with King gone, and UCF’s secondary is a whole lot fierier than SMU’s is. For the Knights, Houston’s large defensive front will also pose an interesting challenge, as they most likely will not be able to rely on their rushing game as much as they have in the past few weeks. Because of that, quarterback Dillon Gabriel will get one of his best chances this year to test out just how good he is at quarterback, as he already has 2218 yards passing this year and will probably get a whole lot more Saturday. The Knights should win this game, but it will be a lot closer than the huge spread says, if only because head coach Josh Heupel tends to let off the gas in the second half when the Knights are ahead.
Prediction: Houston 24 – 38 UCF
Tulsa (+10.5) @ Tulane
Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, La. Saturday, November 2 at 3:00 PM CST
The most unfortunately scheduled team in the AAC meets yet another tough opponent, as Tulsa will go on the road to Tulane on this week’s version of “the best 2-6 team in the AAC.” While Tulsa was indeed a missed field goal away from beating both No. 15 SMU and No. 24 Memphis, Tulane poses a much different threat to their defense in the spread option. Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith has been having a great year so far, but just comes up short of winning most games. His 2,170 yards passing is one of the highest in the AAC, but Tulane’s pass defense is good enough to neutralize him and force Tulsa to use their run game. That poses some great problems for the Golden Hurricane, and more so for Tulane with Tulsa’s huge front line. That front line will be hard to get through with a spread option offense, as Tulane’s version relies on both the run and passing game, instead of a normal triple option like Navy which can just beat a big line like Tulsa’s back. This game should be a stout defensive battle, but Tulane has the upper hand.
Prediction: Tulsa 21 – 28 Tulane
No. 17 Cincinnati (-23.5) @ ECU
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C. Saturday, November 2 at 6:00 PM CST
Cincinnati got the week off last week and comes back in with a game that is ripe for a blowout. ECU just lost last week to an also-struggling USF Bulls team, while the Bearcats have been crushing every team they have faced since they narrowly beat UCF. Not only that, but their only loss is to a tremendous Ohio State team that could easily find themselves in the number one position at some point this year. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is back in the form he was during Cincinnati’s surge last year, so do not be surprised if the Bearcats make a run for the American Athletic Conference Championship, go into a match against the AAC West opponent and win the AAC.
Prediction: Cincinnati 42 – 18 ECU
No. 15 SMU (+5.5) @ No. 24 Memphis
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn. Saturday, November 2 at 6:30 PM CST
Here it is, finally. The AAC game most have been looking forward to ever since SMU started to get national attention alongside Memphis. College Gameday is coming, and they got the prime-time slot for the whole nation to watch. SMU quarterback Shane Buchele and Memphis counterpart Brady White have been about as good as each other this year, already racking up over 2000 yards each. Memphis has been playing a lot better ever since their flub at Temple, but they still have not beaten teams as badly as one could hope. Tulsa was one of three missed field goals away from taking down the Tigers, a margin far too close for comfort. To be fair to Memphis, it also took SMU overtime to beat Tulsa. All in all, I truly have no clue what will happen in this one but I do believe SMU has a slight edge on the Tigers.
Prediction: SMU 49 – 45 Memphis
Americ6n Game of the Week: No. 15 SMU @ No. 24 Memphis
I mean, were you expecting anything else? This one has all of the measures you want for a fun matchup, so I would 100% recommend everybody watching it.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org