A Look At The AAC

UH fought hard and came up short; seven AAC teams are bowl eligible now

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We've come to the end of the road in the AAC regular season. It's been quite the ride. We've seen old powers return to form, and newcomers show promise, while some has fallen from grace. Here's my take on Week 14 in the AAC:

UH failed to stop Navy; future looks promising

The Coogs lost to the Midshipmen 56-41. This game reminded me of a boxing or MMA match in which one fighter was always a step ahead of the other. Just when the Coogs would land a nice combo, the Midshipmen would counter with something more fierce. Though they ended this season with a 4-8 record in Dana Holgorsen's first year bcack as head coach, you can see the promise this team has moving forward. There's some talent on this team that'll be returning, plus there's more talent coming in via transfer and new recruits. Either way, I see Holgorsen's vision for this program and love what's coming. When you remodel an existing home, there's a period of ugliness it goes through. You have to tear stuff out, rebuild, and redo before it can be beautiful again. Holgorsen is doing just that. This season wasn't a homecoming queen. It was more like the awkward freshman who is present at all events and functions, but chills on the perimeter. However, that same awkward kid blossoms into something so beautiful after some fine tuning and seasoning, nobody thought it was possible in that freshman year. Give it some time Coog fans. I think this is the start of something beautiful.

Other Key Results

#18 Memphis 34, #19 Cincinnati 24: These two teams will play next week in a rematch for the AAC title game and a shot at the top Group of Five school for a possible New Years Six bowl birth.

SMU 37, Tulane 20: The Mustangs continued to roll as the Green Wave continued to slide. Although Tulane is bowl eligible with a 6-6 record, I doubt they make a bowl game unless there's a shortage of teams eligible. Meanwhile, SMU has made its case for a decent bowl with their 10-2 record.

UCF 34, USF 7: This game is only a talking point because it led to the firing of USF coach Charlie Strong. The Golden Knights have been on a roll even after Scott Frost left and McKenzie Hilton suffered a career-threatening injury. Strong is best served as a defensive coordinator. Here's to hoping he gets another job because he's a good dude by all acounts.

Stars Of The Week

Damonte Croxie, WR, Memphis: With six catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, Croxie accounted for 40% of the receptions, 62% of the receiving yards, and half of the receiving touchdowns for the Tigers.

Clayton Tune, QB, UH: The presumed backup next season for D'Eriq King went 23/35 for 393 yards and four touchdowns against Navy in a loss. If King decides to leave for greener pastures (something I don't see happening), the program is in good hands with Tune.

Jamale Carothers, RB, Navy: With 188 yards on just 18 carries, Carothers had a helluva game. His five touchdowns were more of a wow factor than his 10+ yards per carry average.

Games To Watch This Week

#20 Cincinnati vs #17 Memphis: The AAC Championship game will determine if one of these schools will possibly get a New Years Six bowl game. I expwct another good game, but the same result as the game they just played this past week.

Army @ Navy: This is one of the best and most interesting rivalry games in college football. The pagentry and tradition that surrounds it are unmatched. It's the most Merica thing outside of wearing a bald eagle with stars and stripes shirt.

Players To Watch This Week

Malcolm Perry, Navy: I can see a big game coming from Perry since Carothers was the one to get the shine vs UH. Rivalry games seem to bring out the best in top players.

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: While he had a decent game against Cincy last week, it wasn't his best. You can bet he's chomping at the bit to show what he can do this week in their rematch.

Brady White, Memphis: If Gainwell and the run game don't get the Tigers going, look for White and the pass game to take over to propel the Tigers to an AAC title.

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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