By Lucas Owens
Last week was the first ranked matchup in the American Athletic Conference this season and otherwise had fun games going on. This week? Outside of No. 25 Memphis finally returning to play against SMU, there are not that many great matchups on Saturday. But, the American trudges on all the same with five games this week.
ECU (+2) @ Georgia State
Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, October 3 @ 11:00 AM CST
Quarterback Holton Ahlers and ECU look to put their best foot forward this week after a rough outing last week, as the Pirates head down to Georgia to face a surprisingly good Georgia State team. The Panthers took No. 19 Louisiana Lafayette to overtime just a few weeks ago and looks ready to burst on offense. ECU, on the other hand, looked anemic at times against UCF, but Ahlers did show some promise towards the later part of that game. Overall, I think this should be a close matchup, but Georgia State should take it.
Prediction: ECU 28 – 34 Georgia State
USF (+21.5) @ No. 15 Cincinnati
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio on Saturday, October 3 @ 2:30 PM CST
Cincinnati may have had just a little bit of trouble with Army’s defense last week to begin the game, but no worries, they probably will not have that same trouble this week when USF rolls into town. On both sides of the ball, Cincy simply outmatches the Bulls from South Florida. Bearcat quarterback Desmond Ridder had a good game against Army last week but expect him to go off against a suspect USF defense. On the other side of the ball, USF’s Jordan McCloud goes head to head with what I would say is the American’s best top-down defense, and with only 120 passing yards to his name through two games, I would feel uneasy about that if I was a USF fan.
Prediction: USF 21 – 49 Cincinnati
No. 25 Memphis (-1) @ SMU
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas on Saturday, October 3 @ 2:30 PM CST
Memphis finally returns to action this week after the party bus incident, and the road does not start easy for them, as they must contend with a fiery hot SMU team led by thriving quarterback Shane Buchele. Being that Memphis has only played Arkansas State so far, their sample size is rather small, but they do have the advantage of being well rested and healthy, whereas SMU has already played three so far this year. Tiger quarterback Brady White had a great game against this SMU defense last year, but SMU has looked good in that regard so far this year. I think SMU has a slight advantage in this game despite what the spread says, but it will be by far the best game to watch in the conference this weekend.
Prediction: SMU 35 – 28 Memphis
Navy (-7) @ Air Force
Falcon Stadium, USAF Academy, Colorado on Saturday, October 3 @ 5:00 PM CST
For once, Navy has the advantage of practice time this year, as Air Force has not suited up since they beat Washington State in their bowl last year. Navy is fresh off a fantastic comeback win against Tulane a few weeks ago, and now have had more time to practice since then with the Naval Academy’s strict requirements. With so much being unknown about both teams still, there is not much to say about this matchup, other than I think Navy should come out on top considering their competitive advantage.
Prediction: Navy 24 – 14 Air Force
Tulsa (+21) @ No. 11 UCF
Bounce House, Orlando, Florida on Saturday, October 3 @ 6:30 PM CST
No, you did not read that wrong, UCF’s stadium is indeed now called the Bounce House officially, as the long-time nickname becomes official. For UCF, this should be seen as a great opportunity to open the renamed stadium with a big win, but Tulsa did upset and completely derail their season last year, so they have a lot to watch out for. The circumstances around those games were very different though, and UCF is much more favored this year. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel will have a hard test with Tulsa’s large defensive line but winning that battle will likely come down to scheme more than anything.
Prediction: Tulsa 21 – 41 UCF
Pow6r Game of the Week: No. 25 Memphis @ SMU
The Tigers finally get back to action this week but awaiting them is a fiery hot SMU Mustangs team. Expect this game to come down to the wire and be decided by just one score.
Edited by Emma Moloney