This week the conference came back to earth as some tough out of conference games humbled a couple of teams that were looking to establish themselves. Then you have other teams that forgot that you are supposed to be the superior talent and ended up coming up short in winnable games.
Cincinnati Bearcats 2-1 (0-1)
After losing starting quarterback Gunner Kiel to a concussion, the Bearcats almost lost the game as replacement quarterback Hayden Moore had four fourth-quarter turnovers, but he came through with a key final drive to help Cincinnati sneak past Miami (OH) 37-33. Maybe if they would have utilized running back Mike Boone more (four carries 118 yards), it may not have been as much pressure for the freshman Moore to carry the team to victory.
East Carolina Pirates 1-2 (0-1)
The inability for the Pirates to stop the run was the ultimate undoing for the team as ECU lost its conference opener to Navy 45-21. Blake Kemp (325 yards and three touchdowns) and the offense did enough to win but the defense surrendered 415 yards rushing. A momentum changing stretch in the second quarter took a 7-7 tie game into a 28-7 deficit that the team could never overcome.
Temple Owls 3-0 (1-0)
Things were going too well for the Owls after two quality wins, so you knew the letdown had to be coming soon. But Temple was the benefit of a blocked extra point by senior defensive back Will Hayes that sparked the late to a 25-23 comeback victory over UMass. Quarterback P.J. Walker had the best passing day of the season (391 yards two touchdowns) but a uncharactersticly high 48 attempts due to the Minutemen focusing all of their attention on stopping star running back Jahad Thomas — who was limited to only 65 yards and a 2.5 ypc average.
UConn Huskies 2-1 (0-0)
If you would have told me that the Huskies would take on the SEC East Division champion and be within a field goal late in the game… I would have laughed at you but that’s what happened Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, MO. Unfortunately the fake field goal attempt with 53 seconds was intercepted and the upset bid thwarted. Uconn limited Missouri to only 270 total yards and forced two turnovers — including an interception by Jhavon Williams. Running back Ron Johnson scored on a two-yard run for the only points by UConn
USF Bulls 1-2 (0-0)
Another tough loss against a Power-5 conference team. This week it was the Maryland Terrapins that made things difficult for the Bulls. Despite scoring first and forcing three turnovers, USF couldn’t get into a rhythm in the 35-17 loss. Quarterback Quinton Flowers finished the day with more rushing yards (85 on 24 carries) than he did pass yards (60 on 10-of-19 attempts) and that kind of summed up the day for USF. Maryland also limited star back Marlon Mack to his lowest rush output of the season with 71 yards on only 12 attempts.
UCF Golden Knights 0-3 (0-0)
We thought things were bad last week… but I think they have hit rock bottom as the Knights took one on the chin 16-15 to Furman. As stated last week no Justin Holman, no chance. The UCF offense struggled without him as it finished the day with only 269 total yards and three interceptions from two different quarterbacks. Quarterback turned receiver turned running back Nick Patti scored the lone touchdown for UCF on a six-yard run to start the game, but after that the team went ice-cold offensively.
Houston Cougars 2-0 (0-0)
no games scheduled
Memphis Tigers 3-0 (0-0)
A game against two up and coming “small conference” foes did not disappoint as Memphis went on the road and defeated Bowling Green 44-41. The two programs were coming off big wins over Power-5 schools and fans were excited to see how the two prolific offenses would do. On the night Memphis had 541 total yards — including 386 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Paxton Lynch. It was a 48 yard touchdown to Tevin Jones early in the fourth quarter that tied the back and forth battle and kicker Jake Elliott won it with a field goal with 2:48 left in the game
Navy Midshipmen 2-0 (1-0)
The Midshipmen made an introduction into the conference that East Carolina will never forget as they rushed for 415 yards on its way to a 45-21 blowout victory over ECU. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds led the team with 142 yards on 24 carries and a career-high five touchdowns. Chris Swain joined him in the century club with 123 yards himself and served notice to the rest of the conference how difficult it will be to stop the triple-option offense if it is operating at optimal level.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane 2-0 (0-0)
I made this my week 3 game of the week for a reason, and despite coming up short on the scoreboard 52-38 the Golden Hurricane battled Oklahoma enough to scare them through the day. Coming into the game there were those wondering if quarterback Dan Evans could handle being under the national spotlight and he did with a 427 yard and four touchdown performance. Surprisingly running back Zack Langer took some of that shine with his own stellar performance as he rushed for 161 yards on 31 carries.
SMU Mustangs 1-2 (0-0)
Being a 34 point underdog to the No.3 team in the nation could cause hesitation for a lot of good programs in the nation, let alone one that is rebuilding, but head coach Chad Morris is changing the culture and it showed as the Mustangs fought TCU all the way to the end in the 56-37 loss. An offense that was once the bane of the program’s existence put up 508 total yards and scored 20 consecutive points in the second half to cut the TCU lead to 42-37 with just over 8 minutes remaining. Matt Davis led the way with 394 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns. Receiver Courtland Sutton also had a pair of highlight catches to go with his 115 yards.
Tulane Green Wave 1-2 (0-0)
The Green Wave got tired of getting beat up on and decided to whoop on someone themselves in the 38-7 victory over Maine. Yes it’s a FCS school but as we saw with UCF, nothing is guaranteed. Quarterback Tanner Lee had his best game of the season (277 yards 16-of-27 passing) and back Dontrell Hilliard ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns — including a 85 yard run to seal the victory.
Sports Q&A AAC Player of the Week:
Dane Evans Quarterback – Tulsa Yes the Golden Hurricane lost the game but the performance Evans had against the ranked Sooners could have him winning as a pro-prospect. He showed the grit and poise of a guy that may not be a first-round pick but could be a player that a NFL team could groom into an eventual starter.
Game of Week 4:
Cincinnati vs. Memphis
An early conference match-up between two divisional favorites sends the Bearcats down to take on the Tigers in Memphis. Lately the Bearcats have had trouble stopping the pass and Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch is one of the best in the conference — if not the nation. The key for Cincinnati pulling off the upset is the health of their own quarterback Gunner Kiel. If he cannot get cleared from concussion protocol it could be a long night for Cincy. I still think the Tigers have too much and getting a win on the road is always tough. Memphis 41 Cincinnati 27