A Look at The AAC

The UH/AAC football report: Coogs run out of gas again; AAC ranked teams go 2-1

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There were only four games in the AAC this week, but three of them featured the conference's ranked teams. One of those ranked teams visited UH this week. Here's how I saw Week 12 in the AAC:

Coogs start hot but finish flat again

The Coogs jumped out to a 17-7 lead after the 1st quarter and looked like they were on their way to an upset. Then the second quarter happened. The Tigers outscored the Coogs 21-3 in the second quarter and never looked back cruising to a 45-27 win. UH was more than doubled up in offensive output 531 to 256. Good news: this team should be better next year and years to come. Bad news: there's two more games left this season and the offseason to wait through. If they can improve their efficiency on offense and improve to be an average to better than average defense, this team will be a top team in the conference again.

Other Key Results

Temple 29, Tulane 21: The nine points scored in the third quarter proved to be the difference between these two 6-3 teams. The Owls were up 22-7 heading into the fourth quarter when the Green wave finally found some offense.

#17 Cincinnati 20, USF 17: It took a heroic effort from Michael Warren II and a 37-yard field goal as time expired for the Bearcats to beat the Bulls. USF outgained Cincy by 160 yards, but couldn't pull off the upset of the conference's highest ranked team.

#23 Navy 20, #16 Notre Dame 52: The Midshipmen were dominated by their historic rival. The Fighting Irish recovered four fumbles on their way to a dominant performance. However, Navy still rushed for 281 yards in their loss.

Stars Of The Week

Brady White, QB, Memphis: If you saw a Power 5 quarterback threw for 341 yards and five touchdowns in an 18-point win over a conference rival on the road, you'd think he'd be in the Heisman race right? Someday, things will change for Group of 5 players, specifically in the AAC.

Michael Warren II, RB, Cincinnati: As I stated earlier, Warren kept the Bearcats in the game and helped them win almost singlehandedly. He totaled 164 yards on 28 touches and a touchdown. He accounted for 58.9% of their total yards on offense.

Jadan Blue, WR, Temple: At 12 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the Owls win over the Green Wave, Blue accounted for 54.5% of the receptions, 44.1% of the passing yards and a third of the touchdown passes. He's the team's leading receiver this season and is only a sophmore.

Games To Watch This Week

UCF @ Tulane

SMU @ #23 Navy

Temple @ #17 Cincinnati

Players To Watch This Week

Doug Gabriel, UCF: The Golden Knights are a prolific passing team. The Green Wave are stingy against the pass. The one that wins this battle should also win the game.

Malcolm Perry, Navy: Perry is Navy's leading passer and rusher in their triple option attack. However, SMU is worse against the pass than they are against the run. Perry's performance in both phases of the offense will be key to the outcome.

Anthony Russo, Temple: If the Owls want to pull off the upset against Cincy, Russo will have to have a great game. If he can keep the chains moving via the pass game against a Bearcats defense gives up more yards in the air than on the ground, The Owls will have a shot.

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As the regular season winds down, the NASCAR Cup Series makes its second trip to Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400. The race for the final two playoff spots is getting closer and closer and with 15 different winners, it’s truly anyone's guess as to who will fill out these last two spots. This track is a wide short track with 14 degrees of banking in the corners and flat on the front stretch. Richmond is one of the more tame short tracks on the schedule; we are accustomed to seeing lots of green-flag runs. The last race here, saw most of the action come after the restarts as we watched Denny Hamlin slice through the field to score his first victory of 2022. With the stakes being much higher, we should see drivers be more aggressive. Don’t be surprised if there is a bump and run at the end of the race.

Last week at Michigan, Kevin Harvick got back into the race for the championship after scoring his first win since 2020. It had been a difficult year and a half for the 2014 champion, his average finish has been way down under 10 and while he’s had good runs, the dominance we are used to seeing from him hasn’t been there. The biggest slight on Harvick’s record was in the win column. Because of this, Harvick entered the weekend outside the playoffs. The team was also coming off a DNF at Indianapolis. The chances of contending for the championship were bleak, some were even wondering if he’d continue racing after the season. But now it seems he and his crew chief Rodney Childers are completely rejuvenated going into the playoffs. They aren’t out of the woods yet as there is still a real possibility of more than 16 winners, but with Kurt Busch running into his struggles, it’s unlikely that Harvick will be the lowest point winner.

The troubles continue for Kurt Busch as it was announced that he would be out again this week at Richmond. Busch has missed this third consecutive race in a row, leading many to believe that he might not return this season. This would be a shame considering Kurt has advanced to the playoffs with a win. Fortunately, If he has to miss a race in the opening round, he will still be granted a waiver if he’s to win one of the next two races to advance. In the meantime, Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in. He’s been doing a great job at holding down the fort these past couple of weeks, with a top ten last week at Michigan. He appears to be ready to move up to the Cup in 2023.

Because of Ty Gibbs’s improvements, the rumors and speculation continue to run rampant as to who will drive the #18 car next season for Joe Gibbs racing. It appears that Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs have reached a halt on their contract talks. According to the popular racing podcast, Door, Bumper, Clear, talks between the two-time champion and the team have completely stopped. It’s been implied by various insiders that his expected landing spot next season will be at Stewart-Haas racing.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Busch's teammate Martin Truex Jr. I picked him to win last week at Michigan, and he definitely had a car that was capable of winning, but not quite as fast as Kevin Harvick or Bubba Wallace. Fortunately, this weekend at Richmond is probably his best racetrack. In the last four races, no one has a better finishing average than him (2.3). He’s won three of the last six races here and has led over 24 percent of the laps among all active drivers. It’s clear that he needs a clutch performance to move into the playoffs, as he’s now the first car below the cutline despite being fourth in points. This week, I think he’ll punch his ticket and contend for the title in the playoffs.

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