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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Football

State of the AAC: Cougars, Knights win big in Week 2


Houston's' 37-17 win over Prairie View A&M aided the AAC in going 6-4 in Week 2. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Houston’s 37-17 win over Prairie View A&M aided the AAC in going 6-4 in Week 2. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Another week, another decent showing from the American Athletic Conference’s football programs.

While Cincinnati was completely obliterated in the conference’s spotlight matchup against Ohio State Saturday afternoon, the AAC ended Week 2 of college football with a respectable showing, winning six of 10 matchups.

In a 37-17 win over Prairie View A&M, Houston aided the AAC in going 6-4 over the second weekend of play.

Thanks to two rushing touchdowns by senior quarterback D’Eriq King, junior running back Kyle Porter’s score and junior kicker Dalton Witherspoon’s three field goals, the Cougars joined other AAC teams in cruising to victory.

UCF remains the sole ranked team in the conference and showed it rightfully should be as it continued its offensive prowls, defeating Florida Atlantic 48-14. The Knights have recorded 110 points through their first two games, which is tied for the sixth-most this season.

After a stellar debut in the Knights’ opening-weekend defeat of Florida A&M, freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel started Saturday’s game, as a result of senior transfer quarterback Brandon Wimbush’s injury, for an average showing. The Hawaii native completed just seven of his 19 attempts but still recorded 245 yards and two touchdowns.

UCF will welcome Stanford, who fell out of the Top 25 after a loss to unranked USC, to Spectrum Stadium Saturday afternoon in the Knights’ first meeting with a Power Five school since their 40-32 defeat to LSU in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.

While UCF is the only AAC team in the Top 25, Memphis could soon find itself cracking the rankings with continued success. The Tigers have received significant votes in both the AP and Coaches Polls, and their 55-24 dismantling of Southern certainly helped the cause.

In its Week 1 victory over Ole Miss, Memphis utilized tough defense to win. Saturday, however, saw the offensive potential of the Tigers in full scope, as they recorded 575 yards, including 337 from junior quarterback Brady White. White also recorded two touchdown passes, while the Tigers’ running game added another four.

Memphis will again face an unexciting opponent Saturday, however, as they travel to Mobile, Alabama to battle South Alabama, which is currently 1-1. The Tigers currently have no ranked opponents on their schedule, which could hurt hopes for an emergence in the Top 25.

As for the marquee AAC match over the weekend, it wasn’t much of a match at all. Cincinnati was the most recent victim of Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields and the No. 6 Buckeyes. Despite being down only 7-0 after the first quarter, all hope depleted as OSU took a 28-point lead to halftime and never looked back.

The Bearcats were ultimately blanked by the Buckeyes 42-0 in Columbus, Ohio. Cincinnati was the second-straight victim of a 40-plus point game for Ohio State, which was led by Heisman-hopeful Fields, who went 20 of 25 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

But Cincinnati was not only beat in the air, as Ohio State’s junior running back J.K. Dobbins racked up 141 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries. As a whole, the Buckeye’s 270 yards of rushing were just three less than the entire outing for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati will look to regather its bearings Saturday when it hosts Miami (Ohio).

UConn was also upended by a Big 10 opponent in a 31-23 defeat against Illinois at home. The Huskies led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, but a 24-point showing in the second quarter by the Illini dropped the hosts to 1-1. UConn has a bye week this week before traveling to Indiana Sept. 21.

SMU is off to its second 2-0 start in three years following a 49-27 victory over North Texas. Junior quarterback Shane Buechele led the Mustangs with 292 yards and three touchdowns. SMU will face another in-state foe in Texas State Saturday at home before traveling to TCU the following weekend.

Temple will return to action Saturday after a bye week with a huge matchup when it hosts No. 21 Maryland, who is averaging 71 points per game, the most in the nation.

Navy, who also had a bye week, will open conference play when it hosts ECU Saturday afternoon.

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