A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: a high scoring week, some teams stay hot while others cool

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Week six in the AAC was pretty high scoring. Five teams scored more than 30 points, with four of them scoring more than 40 and one scoring more than 50. Let's take a closer look at what transpired:

UH was off, but there's still news

Even though the Coogs were off, there was a bit of news that came down. Graduate transfer offensive lineman Justin Murphy has apparently quit the team. He started four games this year: three at right guard and one at right tackle. It's yet to be seen how true the report from GoCoogs.com has any truth or other sources to back it up. So for now, we'll assume it's true.

Other key results

Cincinnati 27, UCF 24: The Bearcats handed the Golden Knights their second loss of the season, and bumped them from the top 25 rankings while taking a spot on the rankings themselves.

SMU 43, Tulsa 37: SMU stayed undefeated with triple overtime win over the Tulsa. No one saw the lowly Golden Hurricanes giving the ranked, undefeated Mustangs this much trouble. SMU is 6-0 for the first time since 1982.

Tulane 42, Army 33: Tulane held off the Army rushing attack for a strong win improving to 4-1 on the season. What's most impressive is they beat Army with a rushing yardage differential of +131.

Stars of the week

Cincinnati Defense: I said last week that UCF would have a tough time with this defense on the road. While they gave up 423 yards of offense, they also forced four turnovers that helped them win the game.

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis: Talk about an appropriate name! He rushed for 209 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in a 52-33 win over ULM.

Tulane Offense: The Green Wave had four guys rush for 50 or more yards and a touchdown in their win over Army. This contributed heavily to their +131 rushing yardage differential.

Games to watch this week

Memphis @ Temple

Cincinnati @ Houston

Navy @ Tulsa

Players to watch this week

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Gainwell leads a rushing attack that averages 214.4 yards a game going against a defense the gives up 125.6 yards a game on the ground.

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati: I expect Ridder to have a big game against the porous UH defense as the 4-1 Bearcats look to build off their big win over UCF.

Tulsa Defense: The Golden Hurricanes are average against the run. Navy excels in their triple option attack. This will be the deciding factor in this matchup.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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