A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: Coogs win ugly as other AAC teams stay dominant

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The Coogs won a game in which they were outperformed. There were also some dominant performances by other AAC heavyweights. Here's what Week Eight in the AAC looked like from my point of view:

UH outlasts UConn

In a game in which they were outperformed in every statistical category except turnover margin (+1), the Coogs managed to beat the Huskies 24-17. I don't give a damn how ugly it looked, but winning on the road against a conference opponent in what some may deem as a "tanking" season is still impressive to me! After dad was caught pitching a fit on the sideline, Young Holgorsen threw a 58-yard bomb that proved to be a game-winning score at the end of the 3rd quater. Now 3-4 on the season (1-2 in the AAC), they only need three more wins for bowl eligibility; something that was unfathomable a few weeks ago.

Other key results

SMU 45, Temple 21: The Mustangs stayed undefeated by totally dominmating the Owls. They outgained the Owls by 382 yards behind Shane Buechele and Reggie Roberson's unstoppable connection.

Memphis 47, Tulane 17: The Green Wave were mauled by the Tigers' Kenneth Gainwell and his record-breaking performance. Add in Brady White throwing five touchdown passes, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Cincinnati 24, Tulsa 13: The Bearcats pulled out a win to advance to 6-1 and stay ranked (#21). Had it not been for five turnovers, the Golden Hurricanes could've pulled off an upset.

Stars of the week

Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: He completed 56.6% of his passes, but threw for 457 yards and six touchdowns. His day was made easier because...

Reggie Roberson Jr., WR, SMU: ...had eight catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He made Buechele's job much easier because he was wide open most of the day. Great performances by both guys.

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis: Gainwell became the first Memphis Tiger ever and the first FBS player since LA Tech's Troy Edwards in 1997 to have 100+ yards rushing and 200+ yards receiving in a game. Oh, and he scored three touchdowns as well.

Games to watch this week

SMU @ UH

Tulane @ Navy

UCF @ Temple

Players to watch this week

Logan Holgorsen, UH: Perhaps it should be Clayton Tune who should be here. Either way, the quarterback play for the Coogs will be critical this week if they look to knock off the undefeated Mustangs.

Malcolm Perry, Navy: Coming off a record-setting performance they gave up to Memphis' Gainwell, will the Midshipmen's Perry be able to put up ridiculous stats as well?

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Speaking of Gainwell, will he be able to repeat or come close to repeating last week's performance this week against the Golden Hurricanes?

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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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