Sports Q&A: American Athletic Conference Quick Hits – Week 1

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Usually the victims of lopsided losses handed down by Power 5 conference schools, the American Athletic Conference handed out its own share of beatdowns in Week 1 and finished

with an impressive overall record of 9-3 — including the upset of the weekend, Temple defeating Penn St. 27-10. The one surprising loss came when conference power UCF was defeated by in-state rival Florida International 15-14 when a last-second field goal attempt to take the lead was blocked.

EAST DIVISION:

Cincinnati Bearcats 1-0 (0-0)

The trio of Tion Green, Hosey Williams and Mike Boone combined to run for 308 yards and four touchdowns as the Bearcats easily defeated Alabama A&M in the return of the Bearcats to Nippert Stadium on campus. In addition to the efficient run game the Bearcats offense converted 11-of-15 third-down conversions, and maybe this is a sign that signal caller Gunner Kiel won’t have to pass the ball a lot for the offense to be successful.

East Carolina Pirates 1-0 (0-0)

With the departure of star quarterback Shane Carden, the Pirates had to find somene else to lead their offense in 2015, and while his replacement Blake Kemp had 230 yards on 29-of-37 pass attempts it was running back Chris Hairston who proved to be the difference maker as he rushed for 154 yards and four touchdowns on only 18 carries. Defensively their may be questions for the Pirates as they allowed FSC Townson St to accumulate 416 total yards in the 28-20 victory

Temple Owls 1-0 (0-0)

The upset of week one the Owls took down Big Ten power Penn St 27-10, and it may not have been as close as the score says. The Nittany Lions defense came in with the hype but it was the Owls defense that stole the show as it sacked PSU quarterback Christian Hackenberg 10 times. But it wasn’t just a defensive showcase; running back Jahad Thomas rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries. This has to be one of the biggest wins in program history.

UConn Huskies 1-0 (0-0)

The 20-15 victory over the Villinova Wildcats was pretty equal from the total yards (307 to 302) to even first downs (19-18), unfortunately for Huskies fans the Wildcats are a FCS program, so can you really be excited about the victory. Tommy Myers was the star of the day with two catches for 83 yards and one touchdown. As the competition increases, UConn will have to find a way to generate more offense, too bad it doesn’t look it will be happening often in 2015.

USF Bulls 1-0 (0-0)

The seat is getting really warm for head coach Willie Taggart in Tampa but it finally looks like things are coming together for the USF offense. In addition to a great 131 yard performance from sophomore back Marlon Mack, there finally may be life at the quarterback position as Steven Bench and Quinton Flowers combined to throw 281 yards on 20-of-26 passing and three touchdowns in the 51-3 victory over Florida A&M. You have to hope this type of consistency continues for the Bulls, if nothing more but to save Taggart’s job.

UCF Golden Knights 0-1 (0-0) 

Junior quarterback Justin Holman had a good game as he finished with 249 passing yards and two touchdowns but the Knights were shut out in the second half and had a field goal blocked in the waning seconds to give the FIU Owls the upset victory. UCF could never establish the run — only 46 total yards on 30 — and the lack of a run game helped fuel the Owls comeback as they sacked Holman twice late in the game.

West Division:

Houston Cougars 1-0 (0-0)

Cougars quarterback Gary Ward Jr. was a one-man wrecking crew as he passed for 275 yards on 21-of-28 attempts and also rushed for 107 yards on 13 carries as Houston defeated Tennessee Tech 52-24. In the process of having a great season opener, Ward Jr. may have found a new go-to target in Demarcus Ayers. The junior receiver from the DFW area had 10 catches for 121 yards and is already one third of the way towards his 2014 numbers (31 catches for 306 yards)

Memphis Tigers 1-0 (0-0)

Looking at the box score you can see that there many involved in the 63-7 victory over Missouri State for the Memphis Tigers. Two quarterbacks completed at least seven passes and three running backs had at least 10 carries — including 18 from sophomore back Jarvis Cooper. Cooper lead the team with 102 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers defense also did its job by limiting Missouri St. to only 125 total yards and 2-of-14 third down conversions.

Navy Midshipmen 1-0 (0-0)

Conference newcomer Navy handled its business in the first game of the season as it defeated Colgate 48-10. We all know how much the Midshipmen love to run the ball but they took it to the next level as 10 different backs had carries including 11 from leading rusher Chris Swain. Swain finished the day with 126 yards, including a 52 yard run, and a touchdown. It will be interesting to see how the conference reacts to the vaunted triple-option offense this season.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane 1-0 (0-0)

Down 38-28 heading into the fourth quarter the Golden Hurricane scored 10 consecutive points to tie the game and eventually won in overtime as Zach Langer plunged in from three to make the final score 47-44. Tulsa was led by quarterback Dane Evans who passed for 424 yards and two touchdowns. He also got help from a duo of receivers Keevan Lucas (10 catches 193 yards) and Keyarris Garrett (five catches 163 yards) The one thing that kept the game closer than it should have been were the four Tulsa turnovers — against better teams it may be too hard to overcome.

SMU Mustangs 0-1 (0-0)

Even though the Chad Morris era started with a 56-21 defeat to the No. 4 Baylor Bears, there is much to be excited about with the SMU Mustangs. It finally looks like there is stability at the quarterback position as Matt Davis had 281 total yards and two passing touchdowns. Defensive Coordinator Van Malone must still shore up the tackling in the defensive backfield but for fans venturing into Gerald J. Ford Stadium this season, you can leave the paper bags at home.

Tulane Green Wave 0-1 (0-0)

Not much went right for the Green Wave who were throttled by the Duke Blue Devils 37-7 to start the 2015 season. Tulane’s defense surrendered 530 total yards and the offense could not keep drives alive as it only converted 2-of-14 third-down conversion attempts. The tandem of Shaun Wilson and Thomas Sirk did combine for 145 rushing yards and a 5.2 ypc average if you are a Tulane fan looking for something to build upon.

 

Sports Q&A AAC Player of the Week:

Jahad Thomas running back Temple– Yes there were players that had better individual days but this is a team sport and Thomas led his Temple Owls to one of the best victories in program history so him and his 135 yards get the nod this week

Game of Week 2:

Temple vs. Cincinnati: Its not often that you get a conference game this early in the season but this will be a nice test for the both programs. Temple must prove that the victory over Penn State wasnt a flash in the pan while Cincinnati must continue to show balance offensively. I think the high over the week one victory leaves Temple with a huge hangover and the Bearcats make them pay. Cincinnati 38 Temple 24

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