Three Teams Trending Up
Yup the Knights are trending up for three reasons. First, they did not have to play a poor UNC team that ECU beat. Because of that, their strength of schedule improved. Second, they got to watch Boise State get pummeled by Oklahoma State ,launching UCF back as the front-runners for the New Year’s Six bowl. Lastly, they will probably end up getting an extra bye week if they can’t get something rescheduled. This was a busy week for a team that had no game.
Temple won a game against a P5 team after losing to an FCS team? The Owls actually put together a full game on offense and defense. On offense, new quarterback Alex Russo was good enough to lead sustainable drives while Ryquell Armstead was the running back we all expected him to be. On defense, they returned an interception to the house and only allowed 14 points to a team that beat Texas. While I’m not ready to give back their spot as a sleeper team, they are a team that may start to be trending in the right direction.
When I thought I saw UConn put up 56 points, I thought I might’ve been dreaming. I haven’t seen a UConn offense be this explosive in quite a while. David Pindell played really well, throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns. Kevin Mensah was also good in supporting Pindell as he ran 25 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. While there are the two caveats of this being an FCS team and the defense giving up 49 points to an FCS team, let’s give this UConn offense some credit. This team could at least get into a couple shootouts with some of the teams in this conference.
Three Teams Trending Down
I was debating between Tulsa and USF here, but I went with Tulsa because I felt that the USF team that played Illinois is more of an anomaly than what we typically see from them. Tulsa, on the other hand, lost to Arkansas State in a very winnable game at home. Luke Skipper played at a below average level while Shamari Brooks carried the load in the run game. While I do see improvement from 2017 to 2018, this Tulsa team still looks like it is far away from competing in a very difficult AAC West.
Tulane vs. UAB was one of my games to watch last week. This was an old-fashioned, competitive, football game from start to finish. Tulane was able to come back from a 14 point deficit, only to have their hearts broken by a UAB touchdown with only a minute to go. Tulane had two chances to tie up the game, but fumbled on their first possession and was not able to get in the end zone on the second possession. This team continues to trend down for me because it looks like they fail in putting together a complete game and finishing off their opponents.
While this is not much of a surprise, I think this team has been more disappointing. When your first three games are North Texas, TCU, and Michigan, you have to set the bar pretty low. However, it’s not exactly the record that concerns me. What concerns me is how poor they played in their first three games. This past game against Michigan was their best game they played, in my opinion, and yet they still looked pretty bad. Ben Hicks was benched for a true freshman quarterback. The defense continued to give up huge points as well. I have said that Navy might be the turnaround game, but with how poorly this team has played thus far, 0-4 sounds like a very feasible scenario.
Players of the Week
Offensive: RB, Darrell Henderson: Memphis and QB, Blake Barnett: USF
Defense: DT, Michael Dogbe: Temple
Special: K, Bennett Moehring: Navy
QB, Desmond Ridder: Cincinnati
QB, David Pindell: UConn
QB, D’Eriq King: Houston
QB, Malcolm Perry: Navy
WR, James Proche: SMU
Top Three Must Watch AAC Games in Week 3
FAU vs. UCF
The clash of last year’s conference champions takes the main stage on ESPN, Friday night. FAU comes in clobbering two of their three opponents with Devin Singletary being one of the best running backs in the G5. Lane Kiffin has a chance on the national stage to embarrass UCF, and prove that they should also be in consideration for the NY6 bid. UCF comes off an unexpected bye week and draws a tough opponent. Will the rest make UCF rusty or will they come out ready to go and prove dominance over an in-state school.
ECU vs. USF
This game would normally not get any spotlight, but this week’s slate is not really great. ECU came off a huge win against North Carolina while USF sneaked by against Illinois. Can ECU replicate what they did against North Carolina after an unexpected bye week?
Navy vs. SMU
This is where SMU has to turn it around if they want to contend. This is also the game where we will get to see if Ben Hicks will still be the quarterback of this team. After last game against Michigan, I would say William Brown has the edge. This is also interesting from the Navy perspective in that if they were to win this game, they would have a commanding 2-0 record in the West.
Ohio vs. Cincinnati
There has been all this talk about Cincinnati becoming a dark horse team early on. They have proved to be a formidable opponent through the first three games. It’s time for them to prove it. This Ohio team is no slouch and could very well contend in the MAC. Cincinnati has a chance to prove they’re closer to UCF and USF than UConn and ECU.