All of your top dogs in the AAC handled their business and won, but it took all of them far longer than we thought to salt those wins away. Let’s review, shall we?
SMU 49, UConn 28
To the Huskies’ credit, they were in this one most of the way, and Bryant Shirreffs hit a 59-yard touchdown pass on the opening play of the fourth quarter to tie the score at 28-28. Unfortunately for UConn, the Mustangs had a lot more left in the tank than they did.
From that touchdown pass onward, SMU quarterback Ben Hicks was 4-for-4 for 93 yards and a touchdown, while Shirreffs was a mere 3-for-3 for 30 yards. Oh and this sequence happened after UConn took over possession at their own 28 with 6:21 remaining:
- Shirreffs sacked for a loss of seven
- Shirreffs sacked for a loss of one
- Shirreffs pass to Arkeel Newsome for 9 yards
- Shirreffs sacked for a loss of four, turnover on downs
- Braeden West 25 yard touchdown run
- UConn fumbles the ensuing kickoff
So If you’re keeping track, the Huskies ran only five plays in the last seven and a half minutes of the game, and three of them ended with sacks. The Huskies continue to have glimpses and moments of success, but they’re 1-3, the defense has given up 128 points the last three games, and now they get a short week to prep for a Friday night game against Memphis. Good luck with that.
SMU will now look to keep this offensive momentum rolling on the road at Houston, which might wind up being pretty easy if the Cougars don’s get Ed Oliver healthy soon.
Houston 20, Temple 13
I predicted this one would be a domination by the Cougars because I had seen very little from Temple to suggest an offensive competence that would allow their defense to not fade over the course of the game.
Turns out that Houston without Kyle Allen and Ed Oliver isn’t quite as potent.
Don’t get me wrong, Temple’s offense was still atrocious. Their game-opening drive started at midfield, drove to the Houston 12 yard line… and then Logan Marchi lost 24 yards on a sack that necessitated a punt. When the Owls finally crossed Houston’s 35-yard line again five minutes into the second half on a drive that cut the score to 20-3 Houston, Marchi as 13-for-26 for 147 yards and two interceptions.
Problem is, Houston’s offense went flat after that, and Temple got a chance to catch up. That comeback only went so far, though, as Marchi threw yet another interception. Houston comes away with a win, and their defense is capable without Ed Oliver, but they’ll need his disruptive presence back to keep winning now that their next month features games against SMU, Tulsa, Memphis, and USF.
Temple, like UConn, has had their moments, and far more of them on defense than offense. The quarterback position remains unsettled even after settling on Marchi. Logan’s average line across the first three games was 20-for-35 for 255 yards and a touchdown or two, but in the last two games, he is now a combined 23-for-54 for 214 yards, a touchdown and six interceptions. We’ll see whether games against the lame-duck defenses of ECU and UConn can correct anything, but it’s just more “close but not quite” right now.
USF 61, ECU 31
Speaking of yon ECU Pirates, I did mention in my preview that they’ve got a lot more offense than Temple even if they don’t have the defense. Like Houston, South Florida was also a tale of two halves, as they let ECU’s Thomas Sirk throw for 300 yards despite none of that coming in the last nine minutes of the game.
ECU is starting off conference play much like UConn in that they’ve got plenty of offensive weapons, but they can’t get enough defensive stops for it to matter, as they’ve now given up 55+ points against three of their four FBS opponents.
South Florida kept on chugging on offense, especially on the ground and continues to show that they can probably win a shootout against just about anyone. That said, another 100 yards worth of penalties this week helped nothing, and the pass defense looked susceptible despite their interceptions.
ECU now gets to face a better defense/worse offense in Temple, while South Florida will face the unknown blob of talent that is Cinci.
Navy 31, Tulsa 21
Sure, by the end of the game Navy had a 10-point win and 420 yards rushing, but for a while, that result looked near impossible. In the first quarter, Navy allowed Tulsa to rack up 165 yards and two touchdowns in three drives, while the offense saw one drive end in a red zone sputter and a missed field goal and another produce a single 30-yard pass that ended with a fumble. Oh no, right?
Not so fast. By the next time the Golden Hurricane crossed midfield, Navy had racked up another 266 yards and 31 points of offense, and Tulsa needed to close out a long scoring drive just to cut their deficit to 10 points.
Kudos to Chad President and the Tulsa for rediscovering their offensive groove and making a game of it, but Navy did just enough to shut them down one last time and tackle D’Angelo Brewer shy of the first down they needed to extend the game.
Navy now comes home for part one of the Commander in Chief’s trophy against Air Force and will benefit from some film study to avoid another slow start. Tulsa has had their moments, but with a road game against a good Tulane defense and then back home for Houston, don’t expect the bleeding to fully stop just yet.
UCF 40, Memphis 13
My god, this game. There is zero doubt in my mind who the best team (and best quarterback) in the AAC is right now. I’ll let Alex tell you all about it in the stand-alone recap.
Marshall 38, Cincinnati 21
Don’t let that score fool you, this one was never close.
It took Cincinnati all goddamn day to get their offense going. When they scored their first touchdown of the game on the opening drive of the second half, they had a grand total of 144 yards, 141 of which had come on that drive and the one that closed the first half with a missed field goal.
You read that right, in the first 28 minutes of this game the Cincinnati Bearcats had three total yards of offense, while Marshall’s Chase Litton had three touchdown passes.
Hayden Moore finished the night 21-for-43 for 211 yards and a touchdown, but that’s including his late garbage-time statistics. When Marshall scored the late third-quarter touchdown that gave them a 31-7 lead, Moore was 13-for-33 for a36 yards on the night.
The Bearcat offense continues to be a working experiment that can’t stay on the field enough to keep their defense from eroding late. Or early.