By Lucas Owens
Only four games were played this week in the American Athletic Conference. Two were lopsided victories and two were close games, but where that second close game comes into play is very interesting. Tulane at Temple was very close as expected, and instead of Navy at Notre Dame being a phenomenal close game, it was actually Cincinnati at USF that proved to be the better of the two. I don’t want to spoil too much for later, but let’s just say the Bearcats came the second closest they have all season to losing an AAC game.
Tulane (21) – (29) Temple
Temple got their seventh win of the season and kept their AAC East title hopes alive with a resounding win in Philadelphia, again behind the strength of their defense and taking advantages of opportunities when they came. Quarterback Anthony Russo continues to struggle, as he again passed for under 250 yards and only threw two touchdowns. However, the defense came in clutch for the Owls, as they forced three turnovers and held the Green Wave to 333 yards. For the Green Wave, they continue a strong season but have come up to a huge block in the road with UCF and SMU to end the season. Quarterback Justin McMillan had just 103 yards passing and 64 yards rushing this past weekend, which will not be nearly good enough to outrun the UCF and SMU offenses, although their defenses might help improve McMillan’s game.
No. 23 Navy (20) – (52) No. 16 Notre Dame
Navy came into South Bend, Ind. as a ranked team and left destroyed by quarterback Ian Book and the rest of the Notre Dame defense. Quarterback Malcolm Perry did not have a good day, rushing for just 117 yards and throwing for 36 yards. In fact, he was even outpassed by his backup, Perry Olsen, who got 43 yards on just one completion. Notre Dame’s defense proved to be too much for the Midshipmen, as the Fighting Irish forced four turnovers and held Navy to just 360 yards. This game obviously does not matter for Navy’s hopes of getting the AAC West title, but certainly will for them getting the New Year’s Six spot if they do find a way to win the conference.
No. 17 Cincinnati (20) – (17) USF
Out of the last three games for the Bearcats, two have come down to them having to make a comeback and kicking a field goal in the closing seconds to win it. Indeed, as Cincinnati was at one point down by 10 to the Bulls and only fought back due to strong defensive play preventing USF from scoring in the last 20 minutes of the game. Looking at both of these teams, this game should not have been that close, which poses huge worries for the Bearcats ahead of two big games against Temple and Memphis. Quarterback Desmond Ridder did not even throw for 100 yards in this matchup. If he repeats a performance similar to that in Philadelphia or Memphis, I don’t think the Bearcats win. USF played phenomenally in this game behind quarterback Jordan McCloud and, although they are definitely looking at not being bowl eligible right now, have put themselves in a good position to succeed in the future.
No. 18 Memphis (45) – (27) Houston
Memphis continues their path to a collision with Cincinnati in Week 14 with a win against Houston but, like Cincinnati’s win over USF, it took a comeback from the Tigers to win it. Houston looked firmly in control for most of the first half, but a late surge in the second quarter by Memphis that led into dominating the second half led to another Tiger victory. Quarterback Brady White looked electric on the field, with 341 yards passing and five touchdowns, while the rest of the offense did a good job of playing off of his passing game. The Memphis defense could have been a little better in the first half, but they proved themselves to be resilient by taking control in the second and not allowing the Cougars any wiggle room. Houston again played a solid game, but is officially not going to a bowl this season. While this has been a rough one for the Cougars, they’re getting their feet under them and should be able to compete with the best of the AAC West next year.
Americ6n Team of the Week: USF Bulls
For the first time this year, I’m giving team of the week to a losing team. While the Bulls ended up losing against Cincinnati, they played far better than they have all season and are building a really good foundation behind quarterback Jordan McCloud to be good the next few years; the pro of having to regularly start a true freshman quarterback.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org