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Saturday, September 23, 2023


State of the AAC: Looking back at week nine

UH picked up the biggest win in the AAC in week nine, handing SMU its first loss of the season. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

UH picked up the biggest win in the AAC in week nine, handing SMU its first loss of the season. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

As the 2021 college football enters week 10, the American Athletic Conference is starting to shake up and paint a picture of where each program will land in the conference standings.

Here is how the AAC played out last week:

South Florida (2-6, 1-3 AAC) at East Carolina (4-4, 2-2 AAC)

East Carolina hosted a matchup of two one-win teams in the AAC as they defeated USF 29-14.

The Pirates opened the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown rush by freshman running back Rahjai Harris, who finished the game with 22 rushes for 100 yards plus the score.

USF played the better first half as it took a 14-6 lead heading into halftime.

The Pirates came out strong in the second half, scoring 23 unanswered points and shutting out the Bulls offense for the rest of the game.

ECU junior quarterback Holton Ahlers finished the game with 21 completions for 220 yards and one touchdown pass in the second half.

Navy (2-6, 2-4 AAC) at Tulsa (3-5, 2-2 AAC)

Navy broke a three-game losing streak on Friday night when they took down Tulsa 20-17 on the road for its second win of the season.

Not much action took place in the first half as both teams produced nothing more than a field goal heading into the locker rooms at 3-3.

Sophomore running back Anthony Watkins opened the second half for the Hurricane with a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown to extend the lead to 10-3.

Navy responded with 17 unanswered points before a late Tulsa touchdown cut the Midshipmen lead to 20-17 with 2:21 left in the game.

Navy sophomore quarterback Tai Lavatai finished the game with 18 carries for 64 yards and one rushing touchdown.

No. 19 SMU (7-1, 3-1 AAC) at Houston (7-1, 5-0 AAC)

A tightly-contested matchup between two of the conference’s undefeated teams ended with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown as Houston upset No. 19 SMU 44-37.

The Cougars popped out with a 17-0 lead before a Mustang comeback pulled the game close at halftime, with UH leading 23-20. 

Both teams exchanged scores on four straight possessions in the second half, as the Cougars held strong and pulled out the victory to take down the undefeated Mustangs. UH football held its own destiny towards reaching the AAC title game.

Senior cornerback Marcus Jones’ late-game heroics overshadowed a career day by junior quarterback Clayton Tune, who finished the day with 27 completions for 412 yards and four touchdown passes.

No. 2 Cincinnati (8-0, 4-0 AAC) at Tulane (1-7, 0-4 AAC)

Despite a slow start to the game, No. 2 Cincinnati dominated the second half to beat Tulane 31-12 and stay undefeated on the season.

Senior quarterback Desmond Ridder led the team with 17 completions for 227 yards and three touchdowns with one interception on the day.

A tight 14-12 lead for the Bearcats at the half extended as the game went on as Cincinnati shut out the Green Wave 17-0 in the second half.

Junior tight end Josh Whyle had himself another game as the team’s leading receiver with four receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

UCF (5-3, 3-2 AAC) at Temple (3-5, 1-3 AAC)

UCF traveled up to Philadelphia and dominated with a 49-7 victory over Temple for its third conference win of the season.

The Knights controlled the entire game led by freshman quarterback Mikey Keene who posted 15 completions for 229 yards and five touchdown passes with one interception.

Junior tight end Alec Holler recorded four receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns on the day as he led the Knights in receiving.

A complete shut out including a 21-point third quarter by the Knights came up just short as Temple finally reached the end zone with 28 seconds left in the game.

Memphis (4-4, 1-3 AAC)

The Tigers will be back in action when they host now-ranked No. 23 SMU on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennesse.

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