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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Football

State of the AAC: Tulsa shocks SMU while Cincinnati rolls


Redshirt freshman running back James Fullbright III runs past the USF defense and scores a touchdown late against the AAC foe in the fourth quarter during Saturday's game at TDECU Stadium. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Redshirt freshman running back James Fullbright III runs past the USF defense and scores a touchdown late against the AAC foe in the fourth quarter during Saturday’s game at TDECU Stadium. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

In a season that has been anything but predictable, the calendar has reached the middle of November and the American Athletic Conference has two undefeated teams left standing.

With five different games in this week’s AAC slate, here is the breakdown of the contests:

Tulsa 28 | SMU 24

After having its game last weekend against Navy postponed due to COVID-19, Tulsa returned to action on Saturday when it hosted No. 19 SMU.

After falling behind by as much as 21 points, the Golden Hurricane was able to rally and hand the Mustangs their second loss of the season.

Redshirt senior Zach Smith threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Smith’s two top targets on Saturday were senior receiver Keylon Stokes, who had eight catches for 122 yards, and junior receiver Josh Johnson, who also caught eight passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

For the Mustangs, senior quarterback Shane Buechele had 200 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.

With the win, Tulsa (4-1, 4-0 AAC) were ranked 25th in Sunday’s AP poll. It is the first time the Golden Hurricane has been ranked since 2010. They play Tulane on Thursday.

As for SMU (7-2, 5-2), it fell out of the AP poll and will host Houston on Saturday.

Cincinnati 55 | East Carolina 17

No. 7 Cincinnati continues to dominate its schedule as it throttled ECU on Friday.

Junior quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 327 yards, three touchdowns and added another 75 yards and a score on the ground.

Freshman running back Keaton Mitchell had a career-high 124 yards on 17 carries and scored his first touchdown against the Bearcats.

As for for the Bearcats (7-0, 5-0), they will travel to Orlando, Florida, for their toughest challenge of the season against UCF on Saturday.

 ECU (1-6, 1-5) will travel to Philadelphia for a battle against Temple.

Tulane 38 | Army 12

The Green Wave (5-4, 2-4) are starting to hit their stride as they defeated the Black Knights last Saturday for their third straight win.

Freshman quarterback Michael Pratt threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Sophomore wide receiver Jha’Quan Jackson scored a receiving and a rushing touchdown in the win. 

Army, which entered the contest ranked 25th in the AP poll, finished with only 33 passing yards. Junior quarterback Christian Anderson led the Black Knights in rushing with 77 yards and a touchdown.

UCF 38 | Temple 13

The Knights (5-2, 4-2) picked up their third straight win last Saturday when they defeated the Owls (1-5, 1-5) in blowout fashion.

UCF’s performance was fueled by its defense, which held Temple to just three points entering the fourth quarter. Junior linebacker Eriq Gilyard had a career-high 12 tackles in the win, three of which were for losses.

Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel had 268 passing yards and two passing touchdowns in the win. 

Houston 56 | USF 21

The Cougars (3-3, 3-2) thoroughly dominated the Bulls (1-7, 0-6) in their win on Saturday afternoon. UH led 42-0 at one point in the third quarter.

Junior quarterback Clayton Tune had 163 passing yards and a season-high three passing touchdowns, but did most of his damage in the running game as he led UH with 120 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Houston’s defense broke out of a multi-game slump it had in its past two contests, in which UCF and Cincinnati were able to run all over the field on the Cougars.

UH’s defense forced two fumbles in the win, one of which resulted in an 85-yard return by junior defensive end Derek Parish.

Memphis | Navy – Postponed

The game between Memphis and Navy was postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases at the Naval Academy, which led to the quarantine of multiple student-athletes.

While Memphis and Navy do not share a common open date for the rest of 2020, the AAC is considering multiple options to getting the contest played.

Houston’s game against Memphis that was originally scheduled for Sept. 18 was moved to Dec. 5 after the Tigers had various players on their program test positive for the coronavirus.

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