Three Teams Trending Up
SMU proved me wrong this week. If you missed my preview, I said that this was going to get worse before it got any better. SMU went out with their true freshman quarterback and put together sustainable drives to finally put some crooked number up on the board. SMU was also helped by the emergence of Reggie Roberson who took a 98 yard kick off for a touchdown. Although SMU came out with the win, the quarterback battle continues to be prevalent as Sonny Dykes turned to Ben Hicks for the overtime win. Next week will be telling of how this competition plays out.
After they started out 0-2 in a mystifying manner, Temple seems to be back on track. After beating Maryland and now Tulsa, they appear to be all warmed up now. While there are still questions about who will start at quarterback, this defense seems like they will be able to carry the team until they find an offensive identity. The Owls’ defense was able to generate five turnovers against Tulsa to propel them to their first conference win. While they are still behind many of their conference mates, their stock has increased.
While South Alabama is not really a solid test for Memphis, they still were dominant. Darell Henderson is by far the best running back in the AAC and making an early case for AAC offensive player of the year. Brady White looked good and it appears he is going to limit turnovers in the passing game. Memphis also seems to be set with a bunch of athletic receivers who can be an X-Factors at any moment.
Three Teams Trending Down
Just like last year, two things concern me about this team. First, the offensive line play proved to be very weak. They allowed six sacks the past game and had a plethora of penalties racked up against them against Illinois. The second being the atrocious play calling. The offense is still running the same plays and being stubborn, even when plays are clearly not working. While this team is trending down, in my mind, they are still a top two or three team in the AAC. The upcoming bye week is coming at a perfect time for USF to regroup.
This will be the biggest drop of the week. This Navy team should have been easily able to defeat SMU after the performances they have put together this season. The offense was okay, but they were very turnover prone. That does not work with the style of offense they’re running. The defense wasn’t much better either as they let a true freshman quarterback give his team a chance to win. Of course, nothing was worse than the special teams play. Had they not given up that 98 yard kickoff return, Navy might have won the game.
I’m pumping the brakes on Cincinnati. While many of my colleagues are believers, I’m still not there yet. They faced Ohio and needed to overcome a 21 point deficit to win their game. The highly anointed defense was kind of like USF, this team won their game and is still one of the better teams in the AAC. They did prove to be a resilient group and proved that they can comeback from a large deficit. But if we are going to say Cincinnati is back, they have to do a heck of a lot more than getting past Ohio. I think we will learn more about them as conference play begins. For now, my perception of this team is trending slightly downward.
Players of the Week
Offensive: QB, McKenzie Milton - UCF
Defensive: DE, Quincy Roche - Temple
Special Teams: WR, Reggie Roberson - SMU
QB, Desmond Ridder - Cincinnati
RB, Darrell Henderson - Memphis
RB, Jordan Cronkrite - USF
LB, Jordan Williams - SMU
RB/LB, Ryquell Armstead - Temple
Top Three Must Watch AAC Games in Week 3
Temple vs. Boston College
One of the two P5 games this week that you should watch out for is the Temple game. They seemed to have turned the corner with their solid defense. They’ll have a huge task this week in stopping AJ Dillon, who some think is a Heisman candidate. This should be a quick, but very fun game.
Pittsburgh vs. UCF
Here is UCF’s once chance at a P5 opponent. Seeing how Pitt lost to UNC, who lost to ECU, this game does not appear to be a strong P5 team. However, we have seen the Panthers upset top 5 teams, including Clemson two years ago and Miami last season. While I think UCF should not have any trouble with Pitt, they should not be careless with this opponent.
Old Dominion vs. ECU
Typically, these two teams would not be ones to watch for. However, ODU enters with the biggest upset of the season. While ECU looked much improved against USF and has a chance to knock off ODU while they’re still on their high. I think this has a chance to be one of the most interesting games to watch this coming Saturday.
Memphis vs. Tulane
This in-conference match up should be a high scoring affair. On one side, you have the offensive superstar in Darrell Henderson with electric receivers like Tony Pollard. On the other side, you have a different triple-option look with a veteran leader in Johnathan Banks. This is huge for both team. Memphis needs this because an 0-2 start in conference play is a deep hole to come back from.