A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: UH nearly knocks off SMU and a ton of high scoring games

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The Coogs nearly upset #16 SMU, but ultimately fell short. This was the only game in the AAC this week that didn't have a 40+ point scorer. Let's take a look at what Week Nine in the AAC looked like:

UH loses by three to ranked SMU

In a game in which they outgained #16 SMU by 125 total yards and won time of possession by a shade over three minutes they still lost 34-31. The main culprits were turnovers (they had a -2 margin) and penalty yards (11 accepted penalties for 129 yards). Twice this game a turnover led directly to touchdowns for SMU, both on very short fields. Games like this make me think if there were more senior leadership, these mistakes wouldn't happen. That said, they still could've won this game. Next year and the coming years look promising. Clayton Tune outperformed Shane Buechele at the quarterback spot this game. Dare I say, there may be a bit of controversy going into next year when D'Eriq King returns?

Other key results

Navy 41, Tulane 38: Tulane is on a two game losing streak, while Navy extended their win streak to four games. They're two ships passing in the night. One is ascending, the other descending. Both will most likely make a bowl game, but they'll make different levels of bowl games.

UCF 63, Temple 21: In a matchup of two 5-2 teams coming into this game, I fully expected a much different result. The Golden Knights ended up rolling the Owls and looked much like the team from the past few years who dominated this conference, while Temple looked like their historical average to below average selves.

Memphis 42, Tulsa 41: Tulsa took this game down to the final seconds and almost pulled off the upset, but missed a 29-yard field goal. Coming into this game, Memphis was 6-1 and Tulsa was 2-5. This would've knocked Memphis down a few pegs in bowl jockeying position. Tulsa is playing out the strings of their season and trying to play spoiler, and almost did.

Stars of the week

UCF Running Backs: Otis Anderson had a career high 205 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown; Bentavious Thompson had 10 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns; Adrian Killins Jr totaled 52 yards and a touchdowns on four carries. 344 yards on 31 carries and four touchdowns was a helluva job by these three guys.

Kevin Mensah, RB, UConn: 19 carries for 164 yards for a 8.6 yards per carry average is one thing...but five touchdowns?!? This was against UMass in a 56-35 win, but still, five touchdowns is still five touchdowns.

Marquez Stevenson, WR, UH: Five catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns, including a 96 yard touchdown to draw the score within three points. His yardage total was almost a third of his season total, as well as a third of his touchdown total for the season.

Games to watch this week

SMU @ Memphis

UH @ UCF

Cincinnati @ ECU

Tulsa @ Tulane

Players to watch this week

Clayton Tune, UH: After throwing for 407 yards and almost upsetting the #16 team in the country. UCF has been the top dog in the conference the last few years. Let's see what Tune can do against the Golden Knights.

Xavier Jones, SMU: In a matchup of ranked teams with good running backs, I'm looking to see if Jones can continue his nearly two touchdown per game pace against Memphis.

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Ditto here. Gainwell has 115 more rushing yards than Jones, but three less touchdowns on the season. Whoever wins this battle most likely wins this high profile game.

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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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