The AAC season is under way with two teams - Cincinnati and Memphis - scoring big wins over power 5 schools. UCF continues to roll and Houston took a tough loss in its opener against OU. A look at the AAC in Week 1:
New coach Dana Holgorsen inherited a flawed roster at UH, and it showed in the 49-31 loss to Oklahoma. The Cougar defense was rough, forcing only one punt late in the game when OU had backups in. Otherwise, two fumbles and two missed field goals were all that kept the Sooners off the board. D'Eriq King struggled in the new offense and did not hit 200 yards passing, but did rush for over 100 yards. The Cougars get a breather with Prairie View this week before another high profile opponent - Washington State - visits.
Other key results
Memphis 15, Ole Miss 10: The Tigers won in a very different way - with stout defense - knocking off an SEC bottom feeder.
Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14: Cincy's stingy defense made life terrible for UCLA, and took a huge win. Cincy gets another tough opponent with Ohio State up next.
Tulane 42, FIU 14: Willie Fritz and the Green Wave are on the upswing, and a big win over a tough FIU squad was a nice way to start the season.
UCF 62, Florida A&M 0: The Golden Knights train keeps on rolling along with another easy win over an outmatched opponent.
Three stars of the week
1) Patrick Taylor, RB, Memphis: The Tigers lost two NFL running backs in the off-season, but Taylor picked up where they left off, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries in the win over Memphis.
2) Anthony Russo, QB, Temple: Russo hit on 31 of 42 passes for 409 yards and 4 TDs for the Owls in a 56-12 romp. Granted, it was Bucknell, but still a big effort.
3) Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: The Texas transfer was 30-of-49 for 360 yards as the Mustangs knocked off Arkansas State 37-30.
5 games to watch this week
1) Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State
2) North Texas at SMU
3) Prairie View at Houston
4) Tulane at Auburn
5) South Florida at Georgia Tech
3 players to watch
1) D'Eriq King, Houston: The mercurial quarterback did not have a good passing day at OU. He should rectify that this week against Prairie View.
2) Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati: After a solid debut against Ole Miss, Ridder will need a big effort to keep Cincy in shouting distance of Ohio State.
3) Reggie Roberson, Jr., WR, SMU: Roberson had a monster week with 11 catch for 180 yards against Arkansas State. He will need to be just as good as the Ponies face a tough North Texas team this week.
In the post-Super Bowl analysis, one key observation was … if you want success in today’s NFL, before anything else, you need a great coach and a great quarterback.
Like the Kansas City Chiefs duo of coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“As long as those two are together, the Chiefs will be serious contenders for the Super Bowl.”
If Houston Texans fans weren’t already champing at the bit for the 2024 season to start, this should put them over the moon.
Great coach? Check! Rookie coach DeMeco Ryans brought respectability back to a doddering franchise with a wave of his hand. He took a team that had won 11 games over the past three seasons – combined – and pushed the Texans to a 10-7 regular season record, an AFC South title and a home playoff victory. No wonder he tied Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski for NFL Coach of the Year only to lose the crown based on one measly first-place vote edge to Stefanski. Texans fans were livid. Where’s the My Pillow guy when you need him?
Great quarterback? Check! Rookie C.J. Stroud set the NFL on fire last season, throwing 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His accuracy and touch had NFL experts scratching their heads – has there ever been a rookie quarterback to match Stroud’s talent?
Let’s say it’s true, the key to success is having a great coach and great quarterback. The Texans would be a safe investment for the future.
Right now, the NFL is all about the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Andy Reid is 65 and quarterback Mahomes is 28. They ain’t going anywhere for the next few seasons.
But not far behind in the coach-quarterback theorem are the Texans. DeMeco Ryans is 39 years old. C.J. Stroud is 22.
If you had to rate coach-quarterback combos, who are you taking for the next 10 years? Give me Ryans and Stroud. The Texans future is bright and young. You can’t even say, just wait for them to develop. The Texans are already there. Just wait till next season.
Back on Earth: I’m not comparing Stroud and Mahomes as players. Mahomes is the best, most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen. But it’s fair to compare their statistics from 2023 – and looking at raw numbers, Stroud stands toe-to-toe with Mahomes and had a better year in certain columns, like touchdowns vs. interceptions. Mahomes threw 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season.
Of course statistics are funny numbers. After the Chiefs victory over the 49ers, the networks were comparing Mahomes’ Super Bowl performances against the all-time greats.
It’s a fruitless challenge – comparing Mahomes to, say Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is not oranges to oranges. The game has changed drastically since Bradshaw was throwing ropes to superstar receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, both of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bradshaw went 4-0 in Super Bowls. His stats must be elite, right? Not exactly. For his career, which included an MVP season and multiple Pro Bowl selections, Bradshaw completed a paltry 51.9 percent of his passes, a stat that would put him well at the bottom of the barrel in today’s NFL. Even more surprising, he threw 212 touchdowns and 210 interceptions – a ratio that would bench a modern quarterback.
The great Joe Namath? He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too. Broadway Joe barely completed half of his passes, a career mark of 50.1 percent. He threw 173 touchdowns and a staggering 220 interceptions. Both numbers would have today’s fans screaming to put in the backup quarterback.
Like Jets fans hooted their quarterback Zach Wilson this year? Wilson was dead last, the lowest-rated quarterback in the entire NFL this season. Here’s how horrible Wilson was – he completed 60.1 percent of his passes in 2023, a significant improvement over Hall of Famers Bradshaw and Namath.