Each Tuesday, I make my picks as to who the winners and losers of the AAC are from the past week — this week being the first. They are not “expert” picks, but simply educated guesses as to where I feel the teams sit week to week.
TOP DOG: Houston
No. 6 Houston is the clear frontrunner when it comes to the AAC — after a decisive 33-23 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday — and may be a dark horse for the College Football Playoff. Houston looked as strong as ever with quarterback Greg Ward Jr. tossing two scores with 321 yards. Houston also had its own “kick six” in the third quarter when Brandon Wilson returned a missed 53-yard Oklahoma field goal 109 yards for the score. With that kind of performance, the Cougars look to make an easy run into the AAC title game. But then again, it’s only Week 1.
The Bulls had the second-most hype heading into Week 1, following Houston. USF was picked second in the AAC Coaches Poll and is favored to win the East division. USF didn’t disappoint in its opening matchup with FCS-opponent Towson, handling the Tigers 56-20. Although not the cleanest game — two turnovers and surrendering 20 points to an FCS team — but certainly matched the expectations of those looking to see USF taking the next step.
The lethal triple-option was in full effect Saturday in Navy’s 52-16 romp of Fordham. The Midshipmen racked up 427 yards on the ground, outrushing Fordham by nearly 250 yards. The absence of the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns Keenan Reynolds didn’t seem to slow Navy down at all. Before tearing his ACL, quarterback Tago Smith rushed 10 times for 109 yards. The Midshipmen will now look to backup senior Will Worth going forward.
There was little Western Carolina could do to slow down its Carolinian counterpart on Saturday. The Pirates moved the ball with ease with nearly 700 yards of total offense compared to just 320 from Western Carolina. The Pirates beat the Catamounts 52-7.
Temple was one of only two AAC teams to come away from Week 1 without a victory, losing to Army 28-13.
In his first game as head coach, Mike Norvell notched his first win with Memphis. After the program lost both Justin Fuente and once Heisman hopeful Paxton Lynch (now with the Denver Broncos), Memphis was a bit of a question mark coming in to 2016. Over the weekend, the Tigers took care of business in average fashion against Southeast Missouri State, winning 35-17.
After trailing 7-6 to UT Martin at the half, Cincinnati edged its opponent 28-7 with scores on the ground, through the air and on defense.
D’Angelo Brewer led the way for Tulsa against San Jose State. The sophomore running back rushed for 164 yards and three scores in Tulsa’s 45-10 victory.
A team that went 6-7 a year ago, UConn was about as average of a team coming into the season as you could get. Not bad, but certainly not a top-tier team. With a 24-21 win over Maine, that notion was only reinforced.
In incredible fashion, shocking to most, UCF has already beaten its win total from a season ago, shutting out South Carolina State 38-0. The Knights went 0-12 last season after winning the Fiesta Bowl just two years earlier. It may not amount to much, but hey, they’re getting one percent-ish better every year at least.
Despite making only four catches in the game, Courtland Sutton hauled in three touchdowns in Saturday’s 34-21 win over North Texas. Even after a decent-looking win, SMU still sits as a bottom feeder in the AAC, for now.
AAC CELLAR: Tulane
In what can only be described as, well, the opposite of a shootout, Tulane managed to hold Wake Forrest to just seven points on Saturday. Only problem is that they couldn’t muster up a touchdown themselves, losing 7-3. For that, they’re in the AAC cellar.