By Lucas Owens
Last week was full of tough games for the American, but this week seems to be a little bit of a reprieve, as conference play is now in full swing! Week 5 in the American Conference is full of loaded questions for a lot of teams in the conference: Will Temple and UCF bounce back? Can SMU continue their best start since the days of the Southwest conference? Is Houston with D’Eriq King going to become the best 1-4 team in the country? Hopefully for the Cougars, the answer will be no, but with that said it is time to get into this latest week of non-stop American Athletic Conference action.
Navy @ Memphis (-10.5)
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN. Thursday, September 26 at 7:00 PM CST
The American Conference again gets started on a Thursday, as this week’s primetime matchup is between the Midshipmen of Navy and the Memphis Tigers. For Navy, this is their second American Conference game of the year, with a win over ECU already, and for Memphis it is their opener in AAC play. Both teams come into the game undefeated, and this one will be a true battle of complete opposite offensive systems, with Navy’s triple option and Memphis’ hurry-up offense at complete odds. I believe this matchup will be decided on how well Navy can play their brand of football. If they are able to slow it down and establish their terrific run game, they should be able to control both sides of play and come out with a win. If Memphis can prevent them from doing that, the Tigers can run away with the win and their first victory in conference play.
Prediction: Navy (21) – Memphis (24)
Temple (-9.5) v Georgia Tech
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA. Saturday, September 28 at 2:30 PM CST
Temple suffered their first big setback of the season last weekend when they lost at Buffalo, so being able to get back to Philly with another opponent who can give the Owls a solid challenge, but not one too difficult, will be good for them to get back on track. Anthony Russo had a rough week in Buffalo last week, so I would look for him to bounce back with this matchup. If he performs like he did against Maryland, the Owls should have nothing to worry about offensively. Georgia Tech is still adjusting to their new offense, so if Temple’s offense is able to perform strongly, they should be able to come out on top.
Prediction: Temple (28) – Georgia Tech (14)
SMU (-7.5) @ USF
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL. Saturday, September 28 at 3:00 PM CST
SMU’s season so far has been going far beyond what even the high-end of expectations predicted for the Mustangs. The defense, rushing attack and especially QB Shane Buchele have been astounding this year, and I do not think that will change when they visit USF for their first game in conference play. SMU’s offense should be able to overcome USF’s defense, and their defense should have no problems with USF’s offense that has been struggling mightily. For USF, this game is the start of the gauntlet of their schedule, as they have mostly AAC games after this, except for BYU, which after a few years of being down looks to finally be turning the corner this year. All in all, SMU should have a handle on this one and continue their fantastic season.
Prediction: SMU (42) – USF (24)
Cincinnati (-3.5) @ Marshall
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV. Saturday, September 28 at 4:00 PM CST
Cincinnati gets back to football this week when they go down to West Virginia to visit the Thundering Herd, and things look set for a great matchup. Marshall so far this year has looked strong, only losing to Boise State by seven and keeping them to 14, and winning their two other games, while Cincinnati has won both of their games decisively except for when Ohio State shut them out 42-0 in Columbus. Desmond Ridder has not looked like he did last year so far, but I for one am still holding out hope that he will continue to improve and bounce back from his early season troubles. This game has all the aspects of being a great game, but I think Cincy should come out with the win in the end.
Cincinnati (28) – Marshall (24)
ECU (+2) @ Old Dominion
S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA. Saturday, September 28 at 5:00 PM CST
ECU ends their non-conference slate this week with a road trip to Virginia to face Old Dominion. Old Dominion has gone through the gauntlet so far this year, as they have faced both Virginia Tech and Virginia on the road in a row, with their only win against FCS Norfolk State. ECU has not done much different going 2-2 with two wins over FCS William and Mary and Gardner-Webb. Both teams in this game will most likely struggle to gain bowl eligibility this year, so a win in this one will be crucial for both teams’ postseason hopes. For ECU, especially being in the AAC East, every win matters to them with an absolute horror of a conference schedule, as their three games against the AAC West are against Navy, whom they already lost to, SMU with a crazy offense, and Tulsa, who looks strong this year as well. ECU absolutely needs to win this if they have any postseason hopes.
Prediction: ECU (35) – ODU (24)
UCONN (-43.5) @ #22 UCF
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL. Saturday, September 28 at 6:00 PM CST
The Knights might be angry heading into this one, and that spells one word for UCONN: disaster. As you can see with that absurd line, UCONN does not look like they have a chance in this one, with UCF’s high-powered offense and loaded defense looking like too much for the Huskies. For UCF, this game can serve as a good opportunity for them to get right back on track after their loss at Pittsburgh, especially for their offense. QB Dillon Gabriel did not have the best game last week, but this one will be a little easier for him and hopefully for UCF, it will be a good opportunity to have a tune up game before going into their very tough AAC schedule this year.
Prediction: UCONN (7) – UCF (62)
Houston (+8) @ North Texas
Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX. Saturday, September 28 at 7:00 PM CST
What a far fall for Houston so far this year. Not only have they lost three of their first four games this year, with the one being from FCS Prairie View, but now they are without QB D’Eriq King, who announced this week he will be sitting out the rest of 2019 and redshirting. For North Texas, they come into this one hot off a blowout win over UTSA. Houston will now rely on one of their three other QBs, of which they have not formally announced who will get the start, either Logan Holgorson, son of coach Dana Holgorsen, Ike Ogbogu, who I may be a little biased towards based on him going to my Alma Mater high school, or Clayton Tune, the current favorite for starter for the Cougars. I think Houston can get back to their normal selves in this game, and rally behind their new QB to get their second win on the year.
Prediction: Houston (21) – North Texas (17)
Americ6n Game of the Week: Navy @ Memphis
I’ll again be highlighting the Thursday night in-conference game this week, but after last week’s insane contest between Houston and Tulane, can you really blame me? Both Navy and Memphis look really intriguing this year, and the battle between two completely opposite offensive systems should be fun to watch.
Thanks for checking out this column, and make sure to watch out for the recap of this weekend’s action next Monday!
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org