Week 10 was supposed to be a boring slate of games nationally. Turns out, the American didn’t listen to those expectations. Cincinnati and ECU produced controversy in a blowout win for the Bearcats, Tulsa made an epic comeback, and a couple other teams jumped on their opponents early with some exciting plays. This conference is fun to watch no matter what team you’re loyal to, and they continue showing that on a weekly basis.
1. Cincinnati (7-0)
The noise surrounding Cincinnati’s playoff hopes continues to rise, an there’s going to be some serious outrage if they finish undefeated and don’t get an invitation. The Bearcats offense appears to be hitting its stride, but ball security continues to hold them back at times. Desmond Ridder threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cincinnati defense forced four ECU turnovers on their way to a 55-17 win. There was also this exchange between Luke Fickell and Mike Houston.
Cincinnati's and East Carolina's head coaches had a lengthy exchange after the Bearcats ran the score up to 55-17 in the final minutes. pic.twitter.com/shmABfqiSD— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 14, 2020
2. Tulsa (4-1)
Tulsa fans needed a long rest after Saturday’s comeback. Tulsa scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to take down #19 SMU. A team that was considered a sleeper headed into the season is suddenly a top tier team, but there’s no time to gloat with a short week. The Golden Hurricane take on Tulane next, and they need to make sure that the emotional win from this weekend doesn’t affect their play against the Green Wave.
3. SMU (7-2)
Another tough loss for the Mustangs puts them on the outside of contention, and they need a bunch of help if they want to get into the championship game. Though it’s a tough way to essentially end their conference title hopes, this has still been a successful season for SMU. Shane Buechele continues to sling it, and the Mustangs are set at the skill positions for the next couple years with Danny Gray (if he stays another year), Rashee Rice, and Ulysses Bentley IV. A 10-win season is still very much on the table with two regular season games and a bowl game left to play.
4. Memphis (4-2)
COVID struck again, canceling the Tigers game with Navy. The Tigers shift their attention to Stephen F. Austin before finishing conference play with Tulane and Houston. We also saw another Tigers player hit the transfer portal this weekend when defensive lineman Everitt Cunningham decided he would finish his career elsewhere. Cunningham’s the ninth Memphis player to opt out, transfer or take a leave of absence form the team according to the Commercial Appeal.
5. UCF (5-2)
The chances of UCF making it back to the AAC Championship are slim at this point, but they’re giving themselves a chance. UCF jumped on Temple this weekend early and coasted to a 38-13 win. The Knights got off to a fast start when linebacker Eriq Gilyard stripped Temple quarterback Re-al Mitchell on the opening drive, and it was essentially over after that.
6. Houston (3-3)
Clayton Tune and the running game went off this weekend to help the Cougars bounce back. Houston’s quarterback led all rushers with 120 yards and two touchdowns, and the Coogs as a team rushed for 319 yards against USF. This was a blowout that this team needed (though they slipped a little bit when the Bulls pulled within 21 in the second half). A 42-0 start was fun to watch for the offense, and the defense continues to fly around the field.
7. Tulane (5-4)
Tulsa might have produced the most thrilling win, but Tulane had the most impressive. An Army team that was frustrated with cancellations left Yulman Stadium frustrated for a different reason. The Green Wave defense forced three turnovers, and Michael Pratt continued his impressive play on the way to a 38-12 win over the 25th ranked team in the country.
8. Navy (3-4)
I’m a little bummed we didn’t get to watch Memphis-Navy, because it feels like the Midshipmen give the Tigers troubles every year to some degree. Oh well. Just one more conference game before Army-Navy, so all the Midshipmen have to do is take care of business against USF this weekend.
9. Temple (1-5)
The Owls never stood a chance against UCF, and now they need to figure out who will lead their offense going forward. Re-al Mitchell took his turn, and it didn’t get off to a good start.
Temple’s in rebuilding mode under Rod Carey, and hopefully the administration recognizes that and gives him time to do that. We saw what it can do for Tulsa, and the Owls used to be a consistent contender in the conference.
10. USF (1-7)
The Bulls held Houston’s Air Raid offense to just 186 yards passing, but they couldn’t stop the Cougars rushing attack. USF’s offense showed a little flash of excitement late in the game, but it wasn’t enough to keep things close.
11. ECU (1-6)
I’m so disappointed that this team isn’t better this year. I really thought the offense could take a big step forward and be explosive, but that clearly hasn’t been the case. Holton Ahlers had arguably his worst performance of this career against a Cincinnati team that he torched in 2019. The Pirates defense continues to be a liability too, and their head coach seems more worried about the Bearcats running fake punts than his team’s performance.