A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: Coogs run out of gas vs UCF, plus a couple close calls for ranked teams

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Week 10 in the AAC was a slate of only five games long. There was still enough meat on the bone to digest. College football is too interesting to say five games was no fun to watch or track in a conference as exciting as the AAC. Let's take a look at the week that was:

UH falls to UCF 44-29

The Coogs actually led the once ranked Golden Knights after the 1st quarter (17-14) and at the half (23-21). However, the 3rd quarter came in like a South Texas cold front and dramatically changed the weather. After trading punts on their initial possessions of the 3rd, UH went on to trade three punts for touchdowns and ended up down 19 points heading into the 4th. Things didn't get much better for the Coogs as they only managed to put up six more points on a late touchdown and failed two point conversion. There is a bright side. The Coogs "held" the Golden Knights to under 500 yards of offense (468), won the time of possession battle (41:31 to 18:29), and tied in turnovers with one a piece. It comes down to execution on offense and limiting the big plays on defense. They gave up seven plays of 20 yards or more. Speculation from a national media member this week said D'Eriq King would enter the Transfer Portal and won't return to UH. ESPN 97.5's John Granato explained on "Granato and Raheel With Del" (hour one right at the 28:55 mark) that Coach Dana Holgorsen said King is enjoying playing football again, is running scout team right now, and will be back next year. I trust this info because of their close relationship over the course of about 10 years plus, whereas this national media member is a Herman Honk who wants to keep his all-access in Austin.

Other Key Results

#24 Memphis 54, #15 SMU 48: The final score was closer than the game appeared. From the eye test, Memphis was clearly the better, more prepared team that also adjusted quicker. SMU seemed to be caught off guard early, and gathered themselves too late. Both are still ranked as they should be.

#17 Cincinnati 46, ECU 43: Trailing 40-28, the Bearcats were in danger of losing to the Pirates. They managed a furious comeback along with a game winning field goal as time expired. Despite the win, they dropped to #20 in the rankings.

Navy 56, UConn 10: Jermaine, why in the world is THIS a key result? Because it catapulted the Midshipmen to #24 in the rankings this week. The 7-1 Navy team's lone loss is to the now #21 ranked Memphis Tigers.

Stars of the Week

Navy Offense: The Midshipmen ran the ball 51 times for 408 yards and seven touchdowns. Six guys carried the ball at least three times and averaged at least 6.8 yards per carry. The triple option is like a dinosaur that has found a way to survive and thrive.

Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: Buechele went 34/54 for 456 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort. What's scary is that he still has another year of eligibility left.

Cincinnati Offense: RB Michael Warren II had 18 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns; quarterback Desmond Ridder had 12 carries for 121 yards; and RB Gerrid Doaks had nine carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. Remember what I said earlier about them being down by 12 heading into the 4th, and this stat line is that much more impressive.

Games to Watch This Week

Temple @ USF

UCF @ Tulsa

ECU @ #25 SMU

UConn @ #20 Cincinnati

Players to Watch This Week

Xavier Jones, SMU: Look for Jones to pad his stats against an ECU team that gives up an average of 204.3 yards per game on the ground.

Cincinnati Offense: The Huskies just gave up 408 yards rushing against the Midshipmen. The Bearcats aren't as profficient running the ball, but they did hang 301 yards rushing on ECU.

Gabriel Davis, UCF: At 6'3 212lbs, Davis is a big body receiver averaging 18.2 yards per reception this season. Tulsa only has two sub 6' defensive backs (5'9 and 5'11). It'll be an interesting matchup for the pro prospect.

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After a "qualifying round" of playoffs, the actual Stanley Cup playoffs are here. In a weird hockey world that saw two 12 seeds win in round one and the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference finish last in the round robin and get a four seed, things appear wide open. The lower seeds may actually have a bit of an advantage at the beginning of these series, as they have already gone through an actual elimination round, while the top four seeds played a less intense round robin. As teams still adjust to a long layoff, more upsets could be in order. It should be fun. Here is a look at the matchups:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)

The Flyers were dominant in the round-robin phase and look very much like a team that can make a deep run. Montreal was the lowest seed in the qualifying tournament, but stunned Pittsburgh, and were the better team throughout the series. Philly, however, is playing much better hockey than their Pennsylvania counterparts. The Canadiens will need a big effort from goalie Carey Price, who is capable of stealing games. Young Flyers goalie Carter Hart was outstanding in the two round-robin games he played and is an emerging star. Philly has more talent, but a goalie like Price can win a series.

Prediction: Flyers in 5.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7)

Tampa is as talented a group as you will find in the NHL. They have depth on all lines, terrific defensemen and an elite goalie. Yet they have a checkered playoff past. Last season, they were dominant in the regular season and looked like a Cup lock. They were promptly swept out of the first round by the Jackets. Columbus outplayed a similarly talented team in Toronto in round one and are a tough matchup. Can the Lightning be struck down twice? Absolutely.

Prediction: Jackets in 7.

Washington Capitals (3) vs. New York Islanders (6)

The Caps still have Alex Ovechkin and a recent Stanley Cup, and have to be considered a contender against whoever they play. But the Isles play terrific defense, grind you down and get just enough scoring to win games. Plus they have the coach who won the Cup with the Caps, Barry Trotz, which gives them another edge. The Isles are a long shot Cup contender and could pull off the upset.

Prediction: Islanders in 7.

Boston Bruins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (5)

The Bruins were the best team in the league in the regular season, but played flat in the round robin, winding up with a fourth seed. It seems a little unfair that they dominated all year but three games determined their fate, but that's life. By now they should have figured things out again and should be able to advance. They are a tricky team, because if they play as poorly as they did last week, Carolina could knock them out. But the Bruins should get better the deeper they get in the playoffs. The Hurricanes have a rising star in Andrei Svechnikov, who had a hat trick in the first round against the Rangers. The Bruins, however, are deeper, more talented and have the more tested and reliable goalie in Tukka Rask.

Prediction: Bruins in 5.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Las Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8)

The Golden Knights were impressive in the round-robin, and looked like they did not miss a beat from the break. They were on a 8-2 run before the Rona interruption and swept the three seeding games since. But the Blackhawks are a scary matchup. They dominated Edmonton in the play-in round, winning 3-1 despite being the last team to qualify. They are young and shaky on defense, but still have proven Cup winners like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford. It would be foolish to count them out, but the Oilers were a much better matchup for the Hawks. If Crawford dominates in net, they have a fighting chance. But the Knights are on a different level right now.

Prediction: Las Vegas in 6.

Colorado Avalanche (2) vs. Arizona Coyotes (7)

This might be one of the more intriguing matchups of this round. The Avs look like a Cup contender, and Nathan MacKinnon is an MVP candidate and might be one of the most underappreciated superstars in the league. The Coyotes, however, are going to be a tough out. Goalie Darcy Kempner faced a ton of shots against the Predators and held up well. He will have to do the same here. Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel provide top end forward play, and Arizona matches up OK here. The Avs should win, but don't be shocked if they are pushed hard.

Prediction: Avs in 6.

Dallas Stars (3) vs. Calgary Flames (6)

Dallas is an interesting team. The Stars have Stanley Cup-level talent, but they struggle to score at times, which could be a problem in a seven-game series. They play strong D and have great goaltending, but have issues with quicker teams, which bodes well for Calgary. The Flames are also a bit of an enigma, but they seem built for the playoffs. They have two young American-born stars in Johnny Gaudreu and Matthew Tkachuk, solid depth up front and on the back end and can hold their own with most teams. Cam Talbot is the key, however. If he can consistently man the goal the way he did in the series win over Winnipeg, they have a big shot. He finished off the series with a 31-save shutout.

Prediction: Flames in 7.

St. Louis Blues (4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (5)

The defending champs were not very good in the round-robin, hence the four seed. But it will probably work out; the Canucks are an easier matchup than what they would have faced with Calgary as a 3 seed. Vancouver is an interesting young team. Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser are two up and coming stars, but the rest of the lineup is bolstered by gritty vets. Defensemen Quinn Hughes is another young star in the making. Goalie Jacob Markstrom was solid against Minnesota, but he will need to be better in this round. The Canucks could have made a run against Dallas, but hard to see them beating the champs.

Prediction: Blues in 6.

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