By Lucas Owens
I have never been happier to be wrong about how the games in this conference were going to go this week. When a conference like the American Athletic has three teams ranked, it usually means those teams are far and away better than the rest of the group. Yet, to Tulsa and SMU Saturday, they were not. That led to two very impressive upsets amid a fun weekend of football.
Tulsa 34 – 26 No. 13 UCF
Only two teams through the last four years in the American Athletic Conference have managed to take down UCF. One is of course Cincinnati, who took down the Knights in Ohio last year en route to an AAC East title. The other has been the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Twice. In the span of six games. In fact, UCF is 8-2 over their last ten played, with both losses coming to Tulsa. Last year’s upset victory at least made sense, coming off a late field goal on the road in Oklahoma. This year’s version, however, was a result of bad defensive play and stalling on offense through the entire second half at home.
Quarterback Zach Smith had a fantastic night for Tulsa, getting three crucial touchdown passes, but the real key for the Golden Hurricane was their defensive line. Not many teams in FBS, not just the American, have a line as big and as good as Tulsa, and that certainly showed Saturday night. UCF’s Dillon Gabriel, who has had a fantastic start behind center this year, threw for 330 yards, but at an incredibly inefficient 28 for 51. Turnovers were also huge for the Golden Hurricane, but in the end, the Knights just got outplayed, and Tulsa has seemingly found the formula to stopping UCF.
USF 7 – 28 No. 15 Cincinnati
On paper, this looks like an easy victory. It was, but Cincinnati showed a few problems all around the field that have made some weary. For starters, both teams’ first two drives were ended by turnovers, and ended the first half with three each. Cincy quarterback Desmond Ridder was particularly alarming, as he had less than 150 yards passing and a career high three interceptions, but at least he did not throw five, like USF did. Overall, while this win certainly shows how powerful a good Cincinnati team can be, I think both teams would prefer to forget about large portions of this game.
No. 25 Memphis 27 – 30 SMU
Looks like the rust just could not come off fast enough for Memphis in Gerald Ford Stadium, as the Tigers, despite being down 24-10 late in the second quarter, just could not come all the way back and ended up losing on a last second field goal by SMU’s Chris Nagger. Even though it came down to the wire, SMU played fantastic all day. This is highlighted by quarterback Shane Buchele, who threw for 474 yards and three touchdowns, and receiver Reggie Robinson, who had five catches for 243 yards before leaving in the third quarter. Defense was firing on all cylinders, and SMU becomes the first team in the American to go 4-0.
ECU 29 – 49 Georgia State and Navy 7 – 40 Air Force
You know, some people have been telling me to be more positive lately, so I am going to go ahead and choose to not talk about these two games at length. Lets just say this was not the most pleasant performance by Navy or ECU this week, and both teams still leave a whole lot to be desired.
Note: Both Temple and Houston have yet to play a single game, so for now, the rankings are just nine teams.
- No. 11 Cincinnati
- No. 18 SMU
- Tulsa Golden Hurricane
- Memphis Tigers
- UCF Knights
- A large, chasmic void that contains Temple and Houston
- Navy Midshipmen
- Tulane Green Wave
- USF Bulls
- ECU Pirates
Edited by Emma Moloney