What a week for the AAC. An appearance in front of a national audience went as good as it could, and we were treated to a great football game. Memphis and their quarterback erased doubts about their abilities to play well in big games, and the Tigers took control of their division. On the East side, we almost saw an upset, which would have opened the door for UCF to return to the AAC Championship Game discussion.
Memphis-SMU did not disappoint
ESPN’s College GameDay took their talents to Memphis, Tennessee, and were treated to an offensive explosion. Memphis beat SMU 54-48 on Saturday, and everything went well for the AAC to make an impression on the national audience. Fans showed up in the morning to watch the show, and they showed up for the game as well.
The Liberty Bowl sold out Saturday night, and the atmosphere was the best of any of GameDay’s locations this season. The fans were loud all game, arguably just as loud as the fans for the UCF-Cincinnati GameDay last year. For a conference looking to make noise, last night helped them take a step forward. SMU may have lost, but they lost to a good team that still has a ton of playmakers.
Memphis’ playmakers haven’t gone anywhere
Kenneth Gainwell’s been the source of discussion for the Memphis Tigers football team, and had a chance to showcase his skills on a big stage. With GameDay on campus, many expected the Tigers freshman to go off. Unfortunately, SMU knew this too and did everything to take him out of the game. Luckily for him, his teammates had his back.
Brady White, Antonio Gibson, and Damonte Coxie stepped up big in the Tigers biggest game of the year, leading Memphis to their 54-48 win. White threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, Gibson accounted for 386 total yards and three touchdowns, and Coxie caught seven passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Gibxon had a touchdown rushing, receiving, and on a kick return. Memphis took over the top spot in the AAC West, but still has plenty of work to do. After losing Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard last year, Memphis proved that they have plenty of firepower that opposing defenses should fear.
Winning on the road is still tough
Unless you’re playing at UConn, winning on the road isn’t easy. SMU, Tulsa, and Houston found out the hard way, losing in their road contests. Cincinnati almost joined them, but kicked a field goal to avoid overtime against ECU. Despite trailing 40-28, the Bearcats came back to win 46-43. With UCF waiting right behind them to have a chance at the AAC Championship, Cincinnati held on to keep the lead.