The biggest game in the Group of 5 this week resides in the AAC, and you’ll want to tune in to watch it. UCF hosts Memphis in what many could consider two of the hottest G5 teams in the country. For almost everyone else, they also begin conference play, though there isn’t a spread for those conference games that’s within one score. For the rest of the AAC, it will either be blowouts or alarming upsets. Joe will not be picking this week and will resume his picks later. It was a rough week last week for both of us, but we’re hoping that conference play brings us better fortune.
P6 Pick’em Records- Joe: 33-5, Joey: 35-3
Game of the Week
Memphis at UCF (UCF -4, Saturday 6:00pm CT)
This was supposed to be a Week 2 matchup, but Hurricane Irma cancelled the game. Uncertainty of a reschedule caused a state of disenchantment, but the conference found a way to change several schedules to make this work. Now, we get a potential preview of the AAC Championship Game early in the season.
UCF has played just two games because of Irma, but they made a statement last week when they went to Maryland and dominated the Terps, 38-10. Quarterback McKenzie Milton appears trending in the right, and he will face a defense that yields a ton of yards and points. UCF’s defense held a Maryland offense that produced 482 yards against Texas, to just 197. They will face their most explosive offensive opponent yet in Memphis, so Milton will need to score points and the defense will need produce stops.
The Tigers are undefeated, but it hasn’t always been pretty. An upset win over UCLA was the highlight, but the hangover from that game carried over into last week. A 44-31 win over Southern Illinois left fans concerned heading into this week. It hasn’t been the offense that concerns fans, it’s the defense. The Tigers are yielding 35 points per game, and they now face yet another dynamic offense. If the defense can play like they did in the fourth quarter against UCLA, Memphis should feel good about their chances. If they play like they did for quarters 1-3 in that same game, the offense better hope it can produce again.
Joey: UCF 30 Memphis 21
The Rest of the AAC
#18 USF at East Carolina (USF -23.5, Saturday 11:00am CT)
I said it at the beginning of the season, it’s extremely hard for a Group of 5 team to start the season as the favorite and end that way. That pressure has already gotten to USF, and we’ve seen it in the first quarters of their games. The Bulls continue to start slow, but that has yet to burn them. Their opponent shouldn’t give them a scare, but that might be a great reason to believe ECU can turn some heads. The Pirates got their first win of the season against UConn, and had an explosion on offense thanks to quarterback Thomas Sirk and receiver Davon Grayson. I’m not saying an upset will happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see ECU jump on the Bulls early. A fast start for USF would crush any hope the Pirates have.
Joey: USF 31 ECU 17
Houston at Temple (Houston -13.5, Saturday 11:00am CT)
It’s too bad this game wasn’t played last year, because it just doesn’t have the same appeal now. The fact that Houston is favored by two touchdowns proves that Temple isn’t what it used to be, and the Owls could be rebuilding this season. They hadn’t played a bad game until last week, and was it ever terrible. The offense only produced 85 yards against USF and the Owls committed six turnovers. Houston is coming off of a disappointing loss to Texas Tech, and you can bet they have refocused for conference play.
Joey: Houston 38 Temple 13
Navy at Tulsa (Navy -7.5, Saturday 2:30pm CT)
Navy’s schedule hasn’t really given us a good view of this team yet, but we will start to get an idea fairly soon. They face another team who likes to run the ball, but does so with a spread look. D’Angelo Brewer has shaken off his poor performance against Oklahoma State, and has rushed for 545 yards in the last three games. He faces a defense that is 15th in the nation in stopping the run. Something has to give, and we’ve seen that Tulsa usually is the one that does. Their defense will also struggle mightily stopping Navy’s triple option attack.
Joey: Navy 49 Tulsa 35
UConn at SMU (SMU -17, Saturday 3:00pm CT)
UConn allowed 41 points to ECU last week, and it’s safe to say that SMU’s offense is better than ECU’s. That will be alarming when these two teams hit the field Saturday afternoon. The Mustangs came into the season trying to find two things: defense and depth at the skill positions. While the former is still in progress, the latter has emerged early. Star receiver Courtland Sutton has been shut down the last two weeks, catching just three passes for 32 yards in two games. That has opened the door for other players to step up, and they have done well with that challenge. UConn’s defense now can’t focus just on Sutton, and I’m not sure how they make a stop in this game.
Joey: SMU 56 UConn 28
Marshall at Cincinnati (Cincinnati -4.5, Saturday 6:00pm CT)
Put Doc Holliday on the hot seat, and watch him respond. The Thundering Herd head coach has his team at 2-1 early in the season, and had a chance of beating North Carolina State. Cincinnati doesn’t have a coach on the hot seat, but they are trying to surprise the conference this year. Inconsistency has been an issue offensively, but the Bearcats defense has been outstanding until last week. If they can shut down Marshall quarterback Chase Litton and receiver Tyre Brady, they might have some room for inconsistency offensively.
Joey: Cincinnati 21 Marshall 17