By Lucas Owens
After such a crazy week in the American Athletic Conference, this week presents itself as a slower, more predictable slate to reset all emotions. There are only four games in the AAC this week, and two of them are on weeknights while the other two are early Saturday. But, there is some good news in that the Thursday night AAC game is returning and features a fantastic matchup.
Temple (-1.5) @ USF
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. Thursday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. CST
I am going to be completely honest in that when I first saw the spread for the game, I was terribly shocked. USF had a terrible start to the season and has turned it around in recent weeks, but I still would not expect them to be on such even footing with a team like Temple, who was 5-1 just a few weeks ago before they played two of the best teams in the AAC in UCF and SMU. The Bulls are indeed on the up and up right now, but I still am worried about giving too much benefit of the doubt, as with how emotionally driven they are as a team I could see this game not going very well for them. While Temple did lose by huge margins to both UCF and SMU, I still think they are too good to not bounce back after their bye and come out with a victory here.
Prediction: Temple 28 – 22 USF
UCF (-17) @ Tulsa
Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Okla. Friday, November 8 at 6:00 p.m. CST
What, did you think the Tulsa murder gauntlet would end just because they can’t earn bowl eligibility? Indeed, the terrible gauntlet for the Golden Hurricane continues this week as they host the resurgent UCF Knights on Friday night. While their quarterback Zach Smith has what it takes to keep up with a fast-paced UCF offense, the Tulsa defense will be a different story. Thus is the one problem of their defense with their huge size: they tend to get outrun by fast teams. And trust me, UCF is one stupidly fast team. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel should have a great day with the deep ball, and running backs like Otis Anderson should be able to break away for plenty of deep runs. That said, I do give Tulsa a small chance to win in this game, just because of how angry about their circumstances they seem, but it is far more likely the UCF Knights run them out of Chapman Friday.
Prediction: UCF 49 – 24 Tulsa
ECU (+21.5) @ No. 25 SMU
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas. Saturday, November 9 at 11:00 a.m. CST
SMU did pick up their first loss of the season last week in a heated contest with Memphis, but this week should be back to formula for the Mustangs. ECU also suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Cincinnati, but instead of being put on an even level with their opponent like SMU was, the Pirates were a few missed opportunities away from achieving a program setting upset against a Cincinnati team that is running the AAC East this year. This week, for both teams, gives an opportunity to restart and try to finish out the season with a bang. Despite their loss to Memphis, SMU is still very much in the thick of things in the AAC West, and ECU has a chance to have a good end to their season even if they do not get bowl eligible. That being said, SMU is the far superior team in this game and barring another transcendent performance from ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers should control the pace and the flow of the game. Quarterback Shane Buchele almost singlehandedly carried the Mustangs to victory last week, so I would not be surprised at all to see him get hot passing the ball this game too.
Prediction: ECU 14 – 42 SMU
UCONN (-35) @ No. 20 Cincinnati
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio. Saturday, November 9 at 2:30 p.m. CST
If you have been following the Huskies this year, you would understand why they are such heavy underdogs in this matchup. Their two wins are over FCS Wagner and UMASS, and already have too many losses to make a bowl. Cincinnati, on the other hand, has been hot ever since their loss to Ohio State and after a bad game last week are looking to turn it around. The key player to watch for the Bearcats is quarterback Desmond Ridder, as he has had a few rough games recently, especially when Cincinnati just barely won against ECU. I would look for him to get a lot of reps in this game and to bounce back from some of his midseason woes. Overall, Cincinnati should absolutely mop the floor with UCONN and bring home their eighth win of the season.
Prediction: UCONN 14 – 52 Cincinnati
Game of the Week: Temple @ USF
The only game this week I’m expecting to be even moderately close, so the Thursday night matchup is the game to watch out of default.
Now that we are getting very late into the season and the schedule is getting more spread out, I thought it would be a good idea to give my power rankings of AAC teams. Without further ado, here is the list
- No. 21 Memphis (7-1)
- No. 20 Cincinnati (7-1)
- No. 25 SMU (8-1)
- UCF (7-2)
- No. 25 Navy (7-1)
- Tulane (6-3)
- Temple (5-3)
- USF (4-4)
- Houston (3-6)
- ECU (3-6)
- Tulsa (2-7)
- UCONN (2-7)
Thank you for checking out this week’s The Most Americ6n Preview, and make sure to check out the recap this Monday.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org