The top of the conference is deep.
South Florida, UCF, and Navy are the three remaining undefeated teams, but SMU, Houston, and have just one loss. Even with UCF’s blowout win over Memphis, there are six teams that have a legitimate shot of winning the conference. Teams like Cincinnati, Tulane, and Tulsa probably won’t make a run at the conference title, but could pull an upset to ruin another team’s chances.
While the AAC East is a two team race between the Bulls and Knights, the AAC West might get complicated quickly. It’s also beginning to appear that whoever can play defense has a great chance of begin successful. The Knights prove that on Saturday against the Tigers, as Memphis couldn’t make a stop to stay in the game.
Hearts stopped when Ed Oliver was injured.
Houston’s sophomore defensive tackle took a chop block to the knee early in the game against Temple, and the hearts of any Cougars fan stopped for a while. Oliver was checked out by trainers and actually attempted to reenter the game but was still noticeably limping and came back off the field. A bag of ice would be wrapped around that knee later in the first half, and he came out of the locker room after halftime with a jumpsuit on.
Houston does not begin practice again until Tuesday, and it would be hard to believe that Oliver would be a full participant until later in the week. An MRI would later indicate that his MCL was affected, but there was no major damage. His absence will be extremely noticeable on defense, but that doesn’t mean the other lineman can’t step up. Reggie Chevis, Nick Thurman, and Payton Turner have already stepped up, and the Cougars will need others to step up if Oliver will be out for a longer period of time.
South Florida may have woken up.
After a month full of slow starts, the Bulls might have figured out to start fast. USF put up 31 points in the first half against East Carolina, including 21 in the first quarter. The Bulls rushing attack once again led the way, finishing with 390 yards. Darius Tice, D’Ernest Johnson and Quinton Flowers continue to run freely behind a solid offensive line, and that should bode well going forward.
The Pirates gave the Bulls defense all that they could handle, but only for one half. ECU scored 24 points in the first half, but only seven in the second. Charlie Strong has made the defense better just by coming to campus, and he’s been waiting for his offense to step up. Could this be the game they needed to put it all together? We will see, but next week’s matchup against a sold Cincinnati defense might tell us more.