By Lucas Owens
Last week shook the American Athletic Conference to its core, and while this week is full of games that on the outset do not look to be too competitive, this full slate is sure to give many fans hope and others some heart pain. The marquee games this week are the nightcap of Tulane at Memphis and Temple at SMU in Dallas, but the rest of the AAC’s Saturday schedule should produce at least a few competitive contests.
Houston (-22) @ Connecticut
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut | Sat., October 19 11:00 AM CST
UConn did not have the best week against Tulane and the Huskies look again like they are outmatched. Houston was surprisingly competitive with Cincinnati, so Connecticut should not pose much of a problem unless the Huskies pull off a rare upset. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune was banged up going into their last game, but he hopefully will be fully healthy this week. Houston only has a few more games they can drop before they need to turn it around to stay bowl eligible, so dropping this one would be disastrous when you consider how this season is already going for the Cougars. Connecticut, on the other hand, does not look like they will be doing anything this season but attempt to improve. They should still try to maintain a competitive aspect to this game, but it would be far more beneficial to get some quality playing time in for players who can make an impact in years to come.
Prediction: Houston 42, UConn 10.
Temple (+7.5) @ #19 Southern Methodist
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas. Saturday, October 19 2:30 PM CST
Temple gets absolutely no rest after beating a ranked Memphis team by two at home. This week, they’re on the road to Dallas facing a surging SMU team. Temple almost was ranked this week, and SMU surged up a few spots on their bye, so this has all the ingredients of being a fun one to watch. SMU quarterback Shane Buechele is having a great season, while Temple quarterback Anthony Russo keeps improving as the season goes on and really hit his stride in the last few games. The Mustangs had a little bit of trouble with Tulsa’s big front line and Temple prides itself on being stout on defense, posing a #TempleTuff challenge for SMU. The Owls made Memphis look not even close to their top form last week and do not be surprised if they do the same to SMU.
Prediction: Temple 35, SMU 31.
Tulsa (+17) @ #21 Cincinnati
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio. Sat., October 19 2:30 PM CST
Tulsa sadly reaps what they sowed last week getting blown out by Navy as they enter as huge underdogs this time against Cincinnati. The Bearcats handled business last week against Houston, so it makes sense that they would be the favorite at home. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder has been steadily improving his game this year, and Tulsa’s huge front line should pose a good test for him. Similarly, Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith has been on fire against solid competition, and the Bearcats defense just might be the type of defense he can work best against. There’s no putting what happened to Tulsa’s defense last week as anything but an embarrassment by a tough triple option offense, so the Golden Hurricane, I feel, should come out this week fired up and at least make this game close.
Prediction: Cincinnati 31, Tulsa 21.
USF (+13) @ Navy
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md. Saturday, October 19 2:30 PM CST
Considering how badly Navy has recently been making me fear their defense, the Midshipmen coming in as favorites over USF is not shocking at all. If anything, I think Navy should be put as even bigger favorites, considering what they did to Tulsa last week in Oklahoma entering at even odds. Especially with how USF’s offense has been faring recently in not being able to keep up with how many points their defense gives up, I just do not personally see a path to victory for the Bulls. It would take a supreme effort on defense to do so as the Midshipmen have been having a supreme time this season just beating teams back constantly and keeping opposing offenses off the field. With that said, I still think USF can have a productive game but that it will not be one that they can come close to winning without a huge upset.
Prediction: Navy 38, USF 14.
East Carolina (+33.5) @ Central Florida
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Fla. Saturday, October 19 6:00 PM CST
The last time Central Florida lost a close game then returned home to face a team typically on the bottom of the AAC East, we got to see UCONN get absolutely destroyed. I don’t think this week’s contest will be too different for the Pirates, as UCF will probably enter this one angry at what has caused them to almost fall off the face of the earth with losses at Pitt and Cincinnati. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel now suddenly has a lot to prove again after seemingly getting all the confidence in the world from head coach Josh Heupel, and ECU’s offense should be easy enough for the Knights to exploit. The Randy Shannon led Knight defense also should have a better game, as Cincinnati two weeks ago was able to push them back in crucial moments and take out their pain on ECU. Overall, I’m sorry to all Pirate fans, but this week the wrath of UCF will most likely be put upon them in Orlando.
Prediction: UCF 49, ECU 21.
Tulane (+4.5) @ Memphis
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn. Saturday, October 19 6:00 PM CST
Yet another night game comes to Memphis this week, as they get the pleasure of playing a surging Tulane squad just after playing a surging Temple team. Memphis’ loss last week is a huge blow to the Tigers- they were just one pass that slightly hit the ground away from possibly completing their comeback. However, that pass just ever so slightly hit the ground and now Memphis enters this game with the same record as Tulane. Tulane has not been in nearly as many close games as the Tigers lately, as their last game that came close at all was when they won on a last second touchdown against Houston on a Thursday night. The Green Wave’s performance against Army really showed who they can be as a team and just how capable they can be of going into a hostile environment and pulling a dominating win off. Ultimately, I think Tulane might have a little bit of trouble with the crazy environment of the Liberty Bowl on a Saturday night, but they should come out with a close win.
Prediction: Tulane 28, Memphis 24.
Game of the Week: Temple @ No. 19 SMU
This week’s game to watch comes earlier in the day with a surging Temple squad facing an equally powerful SMU Mustang team that seems to finally be turning their bad fortunes they faced ever since their death penalty. Temple’s defense is a perfect match for SMU’s explosive offense, and this game has all the makings of a fun one to watch in Dallas.
Thank you for checking out this week’s preview, and make sure to check out The Most Americ6n Recap next Monday.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org