By Lucas Owens
Welcome back to a whole new week of American Athletic Conference football action to recap, and man was this week a bounce back for the conference. All the strong teams looked as strong as you would expect if not more, and the league as a whole lost zero out-of-conference games, although ECU was mighty close against Old Dominion. UCF bounced back from a tough loss, USF and UCONN had bad performances against conference opponents and SMU really looks like they can run the AAC this year.
Navy (23) @ Memphis (35)
Navy, for a while, looked like they were going to upset the Tigers and take home this one, but their third quarter play on defense was an absolutely destructive blow. The triple option offense was getting the better of Memphis for the majority of the game, but without the lynchpin in Perry and being able to slow down the Tigers’ offense, Navy fell off and Memphis cruised to a win behind their strong offense after a great third quarter. QB Brady White did not look strong during the first half, but after halftime he found his groove and ended the night with 196 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Temple (24) vs. Georgia Tech (2)
Temple, so far this year, might be one of the most up and down teams the AAC has ever seen. Georgia Tech did not look that good out there, with Geoff Collins’ reunion being very bittersweet. As Temple heads into conference play, I would look for QB Anthony Russo to keep improving this year and get closer to where he was at last year, and the defense to continue to stay strong. Temple is fortunate that the east is slightly worse than the west this year, so they should be able to take advantage of that and again have a strong season and put up good fights against Cincy and UCF.
SMU (48) @ USF (21)
The final score of this one is a bit deceiving, as it was never even that close for USF. SMU, while they were playing their starters, looked the most dominant they have all year. QB Sonny Buchele was having a field day with the Bulls’ defense, and SMU’s defense was all over USF QB Jordan McCloud before he left at the beginning of the second half with an injury. QB Blake Barnett had a little more luck, but again, not against SMU’s best defensive players. RB Xandry Jones also had a great game, with 155 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. SMU has a good matchup with Tulsa next week, which should test their offense more than they were against USF.
Cincinnati (52) @ Marshall (14)
QB Desmond Ridder, in this game more than any other, looked like the QB he was last year. 221 yards and four touchdowns passing was exactly what a struggling Cincy offense needed, and their defense followed suit by having a strong game, holding QB Isiah Green to just 131 yards passing. Cincy does not get any sort of break though, as next week they host UCF at home in a matchup that should have big implications in a three team race for the AAC East. Cincinnati has improved greatly since their drubbing by Ohio State, and things are looking up for the Bearcats for the rest of the year.
East Carolina (24) @ Old Dominion (21)
Looking at face value, this one looks rough, but ECU was actually not favored in this one, so that they were able to pull it out is great. As said in my preview, this game was crucial to ECU’s bowl eligibility going into the rest of AAC play, as with a down AAC East they have a fair chance of winning three more games and gaining bowl eligibility for the first time in a while. Overall, this win was a good one for the Pirates, and could be monumental in terms of how they fair for the rest of the season.
UCONN (21) @ UCF (56)
Like the SMU vs. USF game just an hour away from this one, UCONN never really had a chance of winning and their 21 points were scored all in garbage time. QB Dillon Gabriel looked really good against the Huskies’ defense, and QB Gabriel Mack looked good in his return from injury relieving Gabriel. The UCF defense looked like a wall against UCONN before the backups game in, and this game did a good job of serving as a tune-up game to start AAC play. Cincy next week will be a good test for the Knights, and will probably prove to be their toughest matchup in-conference. For UCONN, this game starts a last season of AAC play that looks like it won’t even get off the ground after their performance in Orlando this week.
Houston (46) @ North Texas (25)
This win for Houston is monumental after what the Cougars went through last week in New Orleans. North Texas this year looks like the class of the C-USA, and Houston is now one more game closer to reaching .500 again. The Cougars did a great job of stopping the skid they were on, and replacement QB Clayton Tune looked fine in his first start for Houston. The rushing attack also played well, with 235 yards as a unit and three touchdowns. However, the real MVP for Houston was their special teams unit, as Bryson Smith returned a punt for a touchdown, and Marquez Stevenson had an 82-yard kick return. The Cougars get this week off but are thrown directly into the fire when they face Cincinnati the week after that.
Americ6n Team of the Week: Cincinnati
Cincinnati gets the title this week, as their win against Marshall shows just how dominant the Bearcats can be, and they look like a tough team to beat heading into AAC play.
Thanks for checking out this article, and make sure to check out the preview for next week’s action on Thursday.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org