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AAC Week 6 Preview Part 1

League play heats up as mid-point of season draws near

NCAA Football: Charlotte at Temple
Temple running back Jahad Thomas scores a touchdown in the Owls’ 48-20 blowout of Charlotte.
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

With what the Cougars had returning from last season’s 13-1 team, Houston was understandably everyone’s pick to repeat as the American Athletic Conference champion.

As we enter the second weekend in October, Tom Herman’s club has only cemented that thought in people’s minds with their performance up to this point.

All 12 teams were scheduled to be in action this week, but Tulane’s trip to UCF was postponed until November 5th due to Hurricane Matthew. Below, we take a brief look at the two week night games that will be played.

The other three games will be in Friday’s Part 2 preview.

All times are Eastern (EST).

NCAA Football: Charlotte at Temple
Temple quarterback Phillip, formerly PJ, Walker has thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns this season.
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Temple (3-2, 1-0) @ Memphis (3-1, 0-0) (Thurs, 10/6)

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium—ESPN—8pm

After playing four of their first five games at Lincoln Financial Field, Matt Rhule and his Owls will travel to Memphis to tangle with the Tigers on Thursday night.

Temple, last year’s East Division champ, suffered a surprising 28-13 home loss to Army in the season opener, but have rebounded to win three of their last four with their lone defeat being a 34-27 decision in Happy Valley against Penn State.

The Owls opened AAC play by cruising to a 45-20 victory over SMU. Ryquell Armstead ran for 159 yards on just 15 carries to lead a ground game that rolled up 244 yards.

Temple, which has earned a reputation for playing excellent defense in the Rhule Era, is third in the conference in scoring defense (20.4) and total defense (319.4).

Senior defensive end Haason Reddick tops the team with 2.5 sacks and 7 TFL.

Reddick and company will have their hands full this week against a potent Tigers’ offense that is averaging 45.8 points and 477 yards per contest.

Memphis put up 474 yards in a 48-28 loss at No. 16 Ole Miss, but quarterback Riley Ferguson—who has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards in 4 games—was picked off three times by the Rebels.

Expect the Tigers, who suffered a 31-12 loss last November in Philadelphia, to avenge that defeat with a victory in their league opener. Temple’s veteran quarterback Phillip Walker will have to play more consistently for his club to pull the road upset.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Fresno State
Tulsa had last week off after winning a 48-41 double overtime affair at Fresno State on September 24th.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

SMU (2-3, 0-1) @ Tulsa (3-1, 0-0) (Fri, 10/7)

Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium—ESPN2—8pm

Two weeks ago, Tulsa trailed at Fresno State, 31-0, just over five minutes into the second quarter before storming back 48-41 overtime victory.

The Golden Hurricane’s well-balanced attack rolled up 617 yards of offense—including 336 yards on the ground. D’Angelo Brewer carried the ball an eye-opening 46 times for 252 yards. Meanwhile, James Flanders also eclipsed the 100-yard mark on just 13 attempts.

Veteran quarterback Dane Evans went 24-of-34 for 281 yards and four touchdowns.

Philip Montgomery’s club lone loss was a 48-3 decision at Ohio State in game two.

SMU’s averaging less than 20 points per game, which has largely been the result of red zone woes and the inability to take care of the football.

The Mustangs have scored touchdowns less than 25 percent of the time in the red zone (5-of-21) and redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Hicks has thrown five more interceptions than touchdowns (9-4).

Defensively, SMU is allowing 266 yards per game through the air—10th of 12 in AAC. The Mustangs have, however, intercepted 12 passes.

Jordan Wyatt and Horace Richardson top the team with four picks each.

With the way Chad Morris’ club has failed to put up points, the Ponies could use some short fields, extra opportunities and/or defensive scores.

Tulsa’s offense is more potent than the Temple attack that put 45 on SMU a week ago. Expect the Golden Hurricane to win this one rather comfortably.