Three Teams Trending Up
The Bulls proved why they are one of the top teams in the AAC. While they did not put together a complete game, they played extremely well. On the first series, the Bulls set the tone with Blake Barnett throwing a 72 yard deep ball to Tyre McCants for a touchdown. However, those two were not the stars of the game. Jordan Cronkrite set the AAC record with 302 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Cronkrite had touchdown runs from 77, 30, and 76 yards out. Even the defense had a decent day. Despite giving up 42 points, the defense put pressure on UMass quarterbacks all day long, eventually causing five turnovers. Their biggest weakness continues to be in the penalty department. USF committed 11 penalties for 100 yards. The Bulls have now been welcomed into the Top 25, clocking in at No. 23.
Cincinnati has done something that no other team in the AAC can say they have done. Congratulations to the Bearcats for being the first team to become bowl eligible. As a reward for their 6-0 start, they have also clocked in at No. 25 in the AP Poll. In a game that was supposed to be a lot closer than people imagined, Cincinnati took down Tulane handily in their 37-21 win. Desmond Ridder was serviceable, throwing for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He was even useful in the ground game as he racked up 65 yards. The real star for Cincinnati has been Michael Warren II. Everyone expected Warren to be a complimentary back to Gerrid Doaks. However, the injury to Doaks gave Warren a chance to be the starter. To Cincinnati’s benefit, Warren has been outstanding.
The Owls were absolutely dominant this past Saturday against ECU. The 49-6 win over ECU showed how great this Temple team can be. The Owls quarterback, Anthony Russo, was fantastic. He only had four incompletions on the day while throwing for over 250 yards and four touchdowns. Ryquell Armstead also had himself another great game. He finished with just under 100 yards rushing with another rushing touchdown. The defense was clearly dominant as they held ECU to six points and was even able to force a turnover. This was probably the cleanest, most sound game Temple has played this season.
Three Teams Trending Down
After it seemed like Navy was going to be in control of the game, they came up very short. Navy got the scoring started in the second quarter when they took a 7-0 lead over Air Force. After that the Navy offense stalled and the defense collapsed. Air Force responded by putting up 35 unanswered points. Navy, a team that relies on rushing the ball effectively, only rushed for 129 yards while the defense gave up 257 yards to Air Force. Navy usually turns things around and puts together a decent season. However, after the past two games, I’m not sure we can say that Navy is going to turn things around.
The Pirates failed to put anything together. I went on record last week saying ECU may have turned the corner. Other than North Carolina A&T, ECU put together great effort all year long. This game was terrible for ECU. While they did not make too many mistakes, they just looked out classed. ECU just looked like their 2017 self this past game.
The Green Wave took a step forward last week in defeating Memphis. For Tulane, this was an opportunity for a signature win for the program. They had all the momentum they could have ever wanted to go up and beat Cincinnati. However, the Green Wave came out of flat, resulting in a double digit loss. The running backs were still good. Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine combined for 123 yards. However, quarterback play is still a slight issue. The quarterback controversy continues in New Orleans as Jonathan Banks and Justin McMillan vie for the the starting job. Willie Fritz opted for McMillan after Banks failed to impress after a couple series. While McMillan played alright, he was not the electric spark needed for Tulane to overcome Cincinnati. The Green Wave will have to end the controversy and stick with one quarterback in order to stop the downward trend.
Players of the Week
Offensive: RB, Jordan Cronkrite: USF
Defensive: DE, Titus Davis: UCF
Special Teams: WR, Isaiah Wright: Temple
RB, Adrian Killins: UCF
RB, Michael Warren II: Cincinnati
DT, Ed Oliver: Houston
RB, Darrell Henderson: Memphis
QB, Anthony Russo: Temple
Top four Must Watch AAC Games in Week 7
Usually we only have three must watch games with an honorable mention. However, we only have four AAC games this week. Thus, we will talk about each game.
USF vs. Tulsa
The newly ranked Bulls will hit the road again to play Tulsa on Friday night. This one is garnering national attention as it will be on ESPN. On one hand, USF comes off a game where they proved that their offense is capable of being one of the best in the nation. For USF, I want to see if penalties will continue to be an issue. On the other hand, Tulsa comes off a game where they gave Houston a run for their money. I will be looking at Seth Boomer. Can he improve upon what he built during the Houston game? If he puts together a full game, Boomer has a chance of bringing stability to the QB position for the first time since Dane Evans.
UCF vs. Memphis
Who doesn’t want to watch the AAC championship game rematch? While Memphis has had a lot of personnel turnover, they still have a great offense that can put up points. For Memphis, I want to see if they can get Darrell Henderson going against good competition. For UCF, I want to see if they can beat a real opponent. They beat FAU, but that’s it. Memphis is their first dose of tough competition. The game will get national attention as it will be on ABC for all to watch.
Houston vs. ECU
The Cougars really struggled against Tulsa for three quarters. It was by far their worst performance. Even worse, it was against the team who leads the nation in most turnovers. They now have to shake off that rough game against an ECU squad that is now struggling. For Houston, the goal will be to sure up the pass defense. For ECU, it is all about containing D’Eriq King. If ECU’s defensive line shows up, this could be a close one.
Temple vs. Navy
This game is not exactly interesting. However, it does have some big implications. The Owls need to keep Ryquell Armstead going in order to have success. With Russo’s inconsistency at quarterback, Armstead will have to be the big play guy for the Owls. The Midshipmen, on the other hand, have to get the run game going. The poor performance against Air Force has to get out of their minds. They need to get back to what they do the best: run the ball and dominate time of possession.