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Three Things We Learned From The AAC in Week 9

USF stays in thick of AAC East race, Tulsa is for real, SMU wins again

NCAA Football: Navy at South Florida
USF running back D’Ernest Johnson scored on a 23-yard run and the Bulls built a 28-0 first quarter lead before being forced to hold off a furious fourth quarter rally by No. 22 Navy to win 52-45.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9 Results

USF 52 No. 22 Navy 45 (Fri, 10/28)

East Carolina 41 UCONN 3

Houston 31 UCF 24

Temple 34 Cincinnati 13

SMU 35 Tulane 31

Tulsa 59 Memphis 30

USF stays in thick of AAC East hunt with Temple with win over No. 22 Navy

After suffering a 46-30 defeat at Temple a week ago, the Bulls were determined to deliver a strong effort against No. 22 Navy and USF—which improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the AAC with the win—did just that.

The “Gulf Coast” offense was clicking on all cylinders early, as Willie Taggart’s club scored touchdowns on their first six possessions and took a commanding 42-14 lead into the break before being forced to hold off No. 22 Navy’s late rally to win 52-45.

Quinton Flowers accounted for 395 yards of total offense (219 passing, 176 rushing) and four touchdowns. Marlon Mack (11-125, 1 TD) and D’Ernest Johnson (19-107, 2 TD) also topped the 100-yard plateau, as the Bulls powerful ground attack rolled up 412 yards.

Now, USF will enjoy an open date before traveling to Memphis to take on the Tigers on November 12.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Memphis
Tulsa’s James Flanders carried the ball 33 times for 249 yards and five touchdowns in his team’s 59-30 win at Memphis last Saturday night.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Tulsa mauls Memphis, gains ground on Midshipmen in AAC West

Two weeks ago, some people may have still wondered whether Tulsa was for real after it nearly took down Houston on its home turf.

Anyone who doubted should not anymore, as it has become clear that the Golden Hurricane is a bonafide threat to win the AAC West in just the second year of the Philip Montgomery Era.

The former Baylor offensive coordinator has his offense churning out numbers we grew accustomed to seeing during his time with Briles in Waco.

Tulsa (6-2, 3-1), which has scored at least 31 points in every game since its 48-3 loss at Ohio State in week two, produced its biggest point total of the year in its 59-30 victory at Memphis.

The Golden Hurricane’s potent attack that yields 42 points and 499 yards per contest is led by veteran signal-caller Dane Evans (1,970 passing yards and 15 TD), but benefits from a ground game that averages more than 240 yards. James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer have both topped 800 yards while the team has totaled 305 yards or more in five games.

The biggest question about Montgomery’s club may be whether its defense—a unit that allows nearly 32 points and 420 yards per game—is strong enough for a championship run. It is certainly improved over the last couple years, but will be challenged by extremely potent and polar opposite attacks in East Carolina and Navy.

NCAA Football: Houston at Southern Methodist
SMU is now 4-4 under second-year coach Chad Morris after a 35-31 road victory at Tulane last week.
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

SMU handles success, gets road win at Tulane

Following its first victory over a ranked opponent in five years, how would Chad Morris’ club handle its success on Houston when it had to turn around and go play at improving Tulane?

The Mustangs answered the challenge and showed the growth that their program has made under its second-year coach.

SMU built a 21-10 led at the half, but found itself trailing 31-21 with just over ten minutes to play. Still behind 31-28 with less than two minutes remaining, Braeden West reached pay dirt from 1-yard out for the decisive score.

Quarterback Ben Hicks did throw a pair of picks, but West ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

James Proche hauled in six passes for a season-high 164 yards and two scores.

The Ponies, who are now 2-2 in the American, have four games in as many weeks against some challenging competition. The good news is that Memphis, USF and Navy all have to come to Dallas to take them on at Ford Field.