A Preview of Week 5’s AAC Football Action

Woof. Some ugly games this week in the AAC. Let’s get this over with.

USF @ ECU (+23)

This has been a long season for the East Carolina Pirates, and it’s not getting better this week. The upside for the Pirates is that last week they managed to crack the 20-point threshold for the first time all season on offense as they hung 41 on the UConn Huskies in their stand-alone Sunday matchup. The downside is their defense has yet to hold anyone to less than 34 points as the Pirates very nearly blew a three-touchdown lead in the second half.

It says much about the Pirates season that Thomas Sirk passed for 426 yards and three touchdowns, yet they needed a goal-line stand and a missed field goal to win this game in regulation. A UConn team that came into the game in the bottom 15 nationally in passing offense explosiveness racked up eight passing plays of 20+ yards.

On the other side, you’ve got South Florida. THey have struggled in several areas, namely in the areas of special teams and discipline. In four games the Bulls have committed 40 penalties, and they have repeatedly struggled to build momentum thanks to some awkward kicks and kick coverage. That said, they have eventually found momentum in every game, as they’ve finished the night with 40+ points three times.

Last week the Bulls topped Temple 43-7; this ECU team has less defense than the Owls, and their offense is better but not enough to matter against USF.

UH @ Temple (+13.5)

Oh hey look, speaking of Temple…

Last week the Owls struggled mightily under center as Logan Marchi put together a paltry 3-for-13 for 32 yards and three interceptions. Frank Nutile came in and played better… but still finished the game going 5-for-13 for 57 yards and an interception. Temple’s defense is seriously talented, But even the New England Patriots defense could shut down South Florida for four quarters if their offense played like Temple played.

Rob Ritrovato (yes I see that look in your eyes, he’s a junior fullback who had three career carries before last week) came into the game on Temple’s last drive and broke off runs of 19 and 11 yards – and the Owls still finished the game with 33 carries for -4 yards. Last week proved that Temple’s struggles against Villanova and UMass were most definitely the result of an impotent offense, and that is now getting exposed in conference play.

Guess what? It’s going to get exposed again because Houston is basically the same team. The fact that Houston is only a 13-point favorite is an insult to the Cougars.

Navy @ Tulsa (+8)

This line has me super confused. Tulsa is 1-3 and has one of the worst defenses in the entire country. The only things the Golden Hurricane defense does at a rate above atrocious is stopping short-yardage runs (on the rare occasions that they occur) and generating pressure on the quarterback (which doesn’t result in sacks). Last week was the first time this year they held a team under 40 points, but they still gave up almost 500 yards.

Tulsa has regressed to their 2015 version that needs to get into a track meet to have a chance at a win, while Navy just keeps doing Navy things. THe offense has barely skipped a beat with Zach Abey under center . They were challenged by a Tulane team that was well-equipped to stop them (and nearly did), but that will not happen again this week. Navy faces a defense that will likely let them do as they please, since the Golden Hurricane gave up 338 yards on the ground against a New Mexico Lobos team that doesn’t run the ball nearly as well as Navy does.

The Mids are also much better at ball control than the Lobos and have a sturdy pass defense, so Chad President will have to hope he can take advantage of Navy’s penchant for giving up big pass plays to try and keep close.

UConn @ SMU (-17)

This is another line that is only this low to get people to bet on the game. The Huskies, as I mentioned earlier, gave up 41 points and almost 600 yards last week to an ECU team that was averaging about 17 and 400 even with garbage time production factored in. This week, UConn faces an offense that’s actually good.

The Mustangs have faced defenses much tougher than this and still have yet to be held under 450 yards or 35 points, and the opposing offenses have also been more talented. I can assure you that last week’s offensive performance from UConn was an anomaly that will right itself very quickly – SMU will probably give up a decent amount of yards and points, but it will happen because they’re ahead by a bunch in the fourth quarter, just like their win against North Texas.

Marshall @ Cinci (-3.5)

This one is a bit strange. Marshall played at home last week and struggled all day to finish off Kent State. Through three quarters they had outgained the Golden Flashes 225-210 and outscored them 7-0 despite Kent State having three red-zone possessions to Marshall’s one. Cincinnati seems to have finally found an offensive rhythm last week against Navy that would suggest a similarly slow start for the Herd this week would be fatal. Read all about this game in Trey’s preview here.

Memphis @ UCF (-4)

This is a tricky one to predict. Thanks to bad weather, UCF has only played two games, but in both games Mackenzie Milton looked excellent and UCF has romped. The Tigers are undefeated through three games, but have been super bi-polar in the process, with a win over ULM where they relaxed late, a back-and forth win over UCLA, and then a too-close victory over SIU. The Tigers are dangerous (seven touchdowns of 30+ yards, two 99+ yard kick return touchdowns) but will need it with how good UCF’s offense (and how bad their own defense) has been.

Read all about this one in Alex’s preview right here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s