Each Tuesday, I make my picks as to who the winners and losers of the AAC are from the past week. They are not “expert” picks, but simply educated guesses as to where I feel the teams sit week to week.
TOP DOG: Houston
It’s hard to tell if Houston will ever relinquish the top spot in the AAC this season — maybe until the championship if USF can take care of the East Division. The sixth-ranked Cougars continue to turn heads with impressive performances in their first two weeks. After knocking off No. 3 Oklahoma in Week 1, Houston took care of business against Lamar 42-0 without potential-Heisman quarterback Greg Ward Jr. who was out with a shoulder injury. Houston is the darling face of the non-Power 5 conferences and looks like it will continue its dominance heading into Week 3.
Like Houston, USF produced another stout offensive performance without one of its key playmakers. With the AAC’s leading rusher from a season ago in junior Marlon Mack sitting on the sidelines due to a concussion, junior Quinton Flowers and senior Darius Tice amassed 523 of USF’s 658 yards in a 48-7 rout of Northern Illinois. USF has averaged 48 points over its past six games dating back to 2015. The Bulls face Syracuse on Saturday, with a matchup against No. 2 FSU looming.
East Carolina continues its climb after a 33-30 win over North Carolina State — its sixth-straight win over an ACC team dating back to 2013. Anthony Scott scored the go-ahead score with 5:49 remaining in the game to put the Pirates up. Scott finished the game with 90 total yards and two scores.
It was a promising showing for quarterback Will Worth, who made his debut in place of the injured Tago Smith. Despite blowing a 21-point lead and withstanding a furious final few minutes, the Midshipmen were able to squeak out a 28-24 win over AAC-foe UConn for the first conference win of the season.
Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore may not have started the game with much attention, but after a five-touchdown performance against Purdue on Saturday, all eyes were on him. The Bearcats’ 38-20 win over the Boilermakers snapped an 11-game road-losing streak against the Big Ten.
After being one of only two AAC teams to lose in the opening week of the season, Temple bounced back in a big way — albeit against Stony Brook —beating the Seawolves 38-0. It was the Owls’ first shutout since 2014 and will provide momentum heading into an in-state matchup with Penn State on Saturday.
7. Memphis (Bye)
UConn’s furious comeback against Navy fell just short Saturday, as the Huskies fell 28-24. Sitting with no timeouts on the Navy 1-yard line with 17 seconds to go, UConn running back Ron Johnson was stuffed on an attempt to plow in for the game-winning touchdown. Subsequently, time expired before the Huskies could run another play.
It’s hard to compare opponents in college football with the array of tiers that teams across different conferences fall into, but powerhouse or not, three points won’t get you far against anybody. Tulsa lost 48-3 to No. 3 Ohio State last week and looks to rebound against North Carolina A&T.
Clawing its way out of my AAC cellar is Tulane, who stunk it up last week with a 7-3 loss to Wake Forest. The Green Wave rebounded in a big way with 66 points this week against Southern University.
Well, the new era of UCF football started off with a bang, but reality quickly set it in for the Knights, who lost to No. 4 Michigan 51-14 Saturday. Granted it’s a top-tier opponent in one of the more intimidating environments in college football, but the Wolverines knocked UCF back down to Earth.
AAC CELLAR: SMU
Despite going up 6-0 on No. 23 Baylor in Week 2, SMU surrendered 26 unanswered points to the Bears, inevitably falling 40-13.