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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


State of the AAC: The American earns two P5 victories

Although the No. 4 Sooners defeated the Cougars 49-31 Sunday night, other AAC teams found success against Power Five opponents. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Although the No. 4 Sooners defeated the Cougars 49-31 Sunday night, other AAC teams found success against Power Five opponents. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

As a whole, the American Athletic Conference had a positive showing in the conference’s first weekend of football games, going 8-4, including two victories over Power Five conference opponents.

While Houston was unable to match its monumental win over Oklahoma in 2016 on Sunday, the conference had several major highpoints in college football’s first major weekend of the year.

Memphis, Houston’s biggest threat for an AAC West title in 2019, defeated Ole Miss 15-10, while Cincinnati earned a victory over UCLA for the second straight season, 24-14.

Patrick Taylor Jr., the Tigers’ senior running back, picked up where he left off last season, recording 128 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. The Atascocita native also snagged four receptions for 25 yards.

While known for a typically potent offense in the past few seasons, Memphis used stifling defense to down its SEC foe. The Rebels recorded just 173 total yards. The Tigers will return to action Saturday morning when they host the Southern Jaguars.

Cincinnati kicked of the AAC’s season with success in its Thursday night victory over the PAC-12’s UCLA. Like the Tigers’ win, the Bearcats utilized defensive success to topple the Bruins. Cincinnati forced four turnovers and allowed UCLA to advance into its half of the field only five times.

The Bruins’ sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed just eight pass attempts, and save for a 75-yard touchdown, had an abysmal performance against the Bearcats, totaling a quarterback rating of just 5.8. On the other hand, Cincinnati’s sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 18 of 26 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bearcats will also hit the field Saturday morning when they head to Columbus, Ohio, to battle the No. 5 Ohio St. Buckeyes, who are 75.8 percent favorites.

UCF, the only AAC team currently ranked in the AP Top-25 at No. 18, rolled to victory in Thursday’s 62-0 win over Florida A&M. Three different Knights recorded passing touchdowns in the demolition of the Rattlers.

Senior Brandon Wimbush, who spent the last three seasons at Notre Dame, completed more than half of his attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns. However, freshman Dillon Gabriel ensured that head coach Josh Heupel won’t forget him on the depth chart, as he went 9 of 13, three touchdowns and 127 yards.

As a whole, the Knights recorded 598 more yards than their opponent, with 694 compared to just 96 for the Rattlers. In 25 attempts to carry the ball, Florida A&M tallied just four yards.

UCF will travel on Saturday to Boca Raton, Florida, to battle Florida Atlantic before hosting fellow top-25 opponent Stanford Sept. 14.

Elsewhere across the conference, UConn, who defeated Wagner 24-21 in its opening match, will host Illinois Saturday afternoon. Temple, who did away with Bucknell 56-12, will also battle a Big Ten opponent when they welcome Maryland Saturday morning.

USF will look to rebound after its dilapidated showing against No. 19 Wisconsin over the weekend, which saw it lose 49-0, when they travel to Georgia Tech Saturday. Tulane, coming off a 42-14 victory over Florida International, will have a tough task when they travel to Auburn that same night.

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