By Lucas Owens
Week 1 was an intense week for the American Athletic Conference, and week 2 shows no signs of slowing down at all. From in-state battles with Cincinnati @ Ohio State and UCF @ FAU to underdog Tulane visiting Auburn just a week after Auburn pulled a late win over Oregon, this week shows a lot of promise to be just as fun as week 1.
Cincinnati (+16.5) @ #5 Ohio State
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH.Saturday, September 7 at 11:00 AM CST
The Bearcats travel up north in week 2 to face their second Power 6 school in two weeks. Cincinnati is coming off hot after handling UCLA in Cincinnati last Saturday, but Ohio State will prove to be a much more difficult task. In Ryan Day’s debut as full-time head coach of the Buckeyes against FAU in week 1, Ohio State’s offense looked incredibly strong behind transfer QB Justin Fields, who threw for 234 yards and four touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder should be the difference maker in this one, as the game will likely come down to how well he can handle Ohio State’s strong defense. The battle in this one will be won in the trenches for Cincinnati and look for the Bearcat defense to come out strong and attempt to get the upset Saturday morning in Columbus.
Prediction: Ohio State 42 – 31 Cincinnati
Memphis vs. Southern (No Line)
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN. Saturday, September 7 at 11:00 AM CST
The Tigers handled Ole Miss in week 1 and hope to do the same to the Southern Jaguars in Memphis this week. This being an FBS-FCS matchup between two schools with large disparities, Memphis should be able to put this one to bed early and take home the victory in the Liberty Bowl. The player to look out for in this matchup is Memphis QB Brady White who, after throwing for less than 200 yards last week, should be able to bounce back and manhandle the Southern defense.
Prediction: Memphis 52 – 14Southern
USF (+5.5) @ Georgia Tech
Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA. Saturday, September 7 at 1:00 PM CST
USF struggled mightily in their opener at home against Wisconsin, but things should be slightly easier for the Bulls when they travel up north to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. USF QB Blake Barnett should get some relief in the form of a weaker-than-Wisconsin Georgia Tech defense, as he looks to improve from his zero touchdown, two interception performance in week 1. Georgia Tech enters this game themselves 0-1 after a very tough loss to no. 1 Clemson in week 1, with only two touchdowns scored against the incredibly tough Clemson defense. One thing is for sure with this game: look for a lot of offensive fireworks with two relatively weak defenses.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 41 – 38USF
UCONN vs. Illinois
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT. Saturday, September 7 at 2:00 PM CST
UCONN got off to a rare good start in East Hartford last weekend, as they took home a three-point victory over FCS Wagner. However, the Fighting Illini competed against Akron at home and dominated the entire game. Illinois seems to have finally hit their stride in Lovie Smith’s fourth year as head coach. UCONN enters as heavy underdogs, and their only hope for this game is for their offense to improve from week 1 and keep up against Illinois and their strong defense. Considering UCONN’s history however, this will be an extremely tough task
UCONN 14 – 42Illinois
ECU vs. Gardner-Webb (No Line)
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC. Saturday, September 7 at 5:00 PM CST
ECU got off to quite a tough start in week 1, having to travel to Raleigh to face an incredibly stout NC State defense. Things should get easier for the Pirates in week 2 when they host Gardner-Webb. In their week 1 outing against Charlotte, they precedingly gave up 49 points to the 49ers. ECU’s offense struggled mightily in week one, including QB Holton Ahlers throwing for just 168 yards. ECU should dominate in the trenches against Gardner-Webb, and hopefully their defense will have a better day than they did in Raleigh last week.
ECU 42 – 14 Gardner-Webb
#18 UCF (-10) @ FAU
FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL. Saturday, September 7 at 6:00 PM CST
The Knights started off a strong 2019 season after suffering their first loss in two years against LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, as they cruised to a 62-0 win over in-state FAMU. UCF faces off against another in-state team this week when they go down south to Boca Raton to battle the Lane Kiffin-led FAU Owls. UCF goes down south as the return trip of a home and home, as they played the home leg last year, coming on in the second half to defeat FAU soundly 56-36. This matchup will prove to be a very important one for UCF, as they will likely split time at QB between Brandon Wimbush and Dillon Gabriel again. Brandon Wimbush seemed to have a little bit of trouble with Josh Heupel’s offensive system, so look for him to progress this week against a better defense in FAU before facing their first tough test of the season when they host #23 Stanford.
Prediction: UCF 49 – 39FAU
SMU (-3.5) vs. North Texas
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX. Saturday, September 7 at 6:00 PM CST
It took SMU stopping a late surge by visiting Arkansas State last week to start the season off right, but they enter this week’s matchup against North Texas with a crooked number in the win column. North Texas’ path was a little easier, as they decisively handled Abilene Christian. The Mustangs enter as slight favorites in this one, but I would look for them to really excel against North Texas’ defense. QB Shane Buchele had 360 yards passing in his outing last week, and I would look for him to improve on that mark in week 2 and get his first touchdown of the year against the North Texas Mean Green defense.
Prediction: SMU 42 – 31North Texas
Tulane (+18) @ #10 Auburn
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL. Saturday, September 7 at 6:30 PM CST
The Green Wave of Tulane got off to a fantastic start in week 1, handling an FIU team that has been incredibly solid the past two years in New Orleans. This week will prove to be a much tougher challenge, as they head east to Alabama to face an Auburn Tigers team that had an incredible come from behind win against Oregon in Texas. Tulane enters this game as heavy underdogs and should be very wary of letting the Auburn offense get too much of a handle on their defense. However, I believe the key factor in deciding this game should be on the shoulders of Tulane QB Justin McMillan. McMillan had a great 2018, and a very strong start to 2019, going 14 of 18 with 199 yards and two touchdowns. His efficiency and deep passing ability will prove to be key factors in this matchup against a great Auburn defense.
Prediction: Tulane 21 – 31Auburn
Houston vs. Prairie View
TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX. Saturday, September 7 at 7:00 PM CST
Houston faced an incredibly tough matchup in week 1 with a strong Oklahoma defense and a borderline unstoppable offense led by QB Jalen Hurts going off for six touchdowns. Houston was able to keep the game closer than some originally thought based off of how electric the Oklahoma offense was, with D’Eriq King hitting his stride in the second half and bringing Houston to 31 points. Look for Houston to bounce back in a great way in this game, as D’Eriq King should keep improving on his second half performance and hand it to Prairie View at home.
Prediction: Houston 49 – 10 Prairie View
Tulsa (-6) @ San Jose State
CEFCU Stadium, San Jose, CA. Saturday, September 7 at 8:00 PM CST
Tulsa will travel out to beautiful San Jose to face the Spartans of San Jose State in week 2, after struggling against a mighty Michigan State Spartans defense in week 1. However, not all was bad in week 1, as the Golden Hurricane was able to hold Michigan State to just 28 points. This game against San Jose State will be a tough one for Tulsa, but the Golden Hurricane defense, if they play like they did in week 1, should be able to keep the Spartan offense at bay and conquer this battle.
Prediction: Tulsa 21 – 10 San Jose State
OFF: Navy and Temple
The Midshipmen are stuck out at seas this week, as they get a week off early before playing ECU next week. Temple will also stay home and take this week off.
This week should be fun for watching the American Athletic Conference. Some games I would look out for are UCF vs. FAU, to watch two very high-powered offenses, and Cincinnati @ Ohio State for a great matchup between the two best programs in Ohio.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org