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.

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Just another ho-hum week in the AAC. Nothing major to report. Not only did UH lose a road conference game, but they lost the face of their program as well. One other team had a letdown loss, while another surprised everyone with an upset win. Here's a look into week four of the AAC:

UH drops the ball vs Tulane

The Coogs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They led 28-7 early on in the second quarter as they looked as if they were going to cruise to an easy win. However, through sloppy play on both sides, they were outscored 31-3 the rest of the way and lost on a game-winning 53 yard touchdown pass with three seconds left. Four days later, star quarterback D'Eriq King decided to redshirt the remainder of his senior season, but says he plans on coming back to UH next season. So much for Dana Holgorsen's first season as head coach.

Other key results

UCF 34, Pitt 35: Pitt wasn't expected to end UCF's 27 game regular season win streak, but they did, and did so in dominating fashion. In rushing yards differential, Pitt was +111 and won time of possession by 11 minutes. So much for UCF's attempt to break into the CFP.

SMU 41, TCU 38: SMU topped one of the better defenses in the country by beating the then #25 ranked Horned Frogs. My rushing yards differential analytic was blown out of the water here because TCU was +118 and only had a 10 second time of possession advantage.

Temple 22, Buffalo 38: A week after beating #21 Maryland, the Owls lost to Buffalo. -2 in the turnover department and a -186 rushing yards differential will often do that to a team.

Stars of the week

Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: He helped the Mustangs upset TCU by completing 67.6% of his passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. At 4-0, SMU is off to its best start since 1984.

Jalen McCleskey, WR, Tulane: McClesky caught the game-winning 53 yard touchdown. He also had three other catches for 70 yards and another touchdown. He accounted for 64.5% of their receiving yards and two of their three receiving touchdowns.

Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF: The Golden Knights lost, but it wasn't through any fault of Davis who totaled 10 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns. I'm keeping an eye on this kid as he is draft eligible after this season.

Four games to watch this week

Navy @ Memphis

SMU @ USF

UConn @ UCF

UH @ UNT

Three players to watch this week

Clayton Tune, UH: With King redshirtting, Tune is now the starter. Going on the road to Denton for his third career start will be very telling as to how the rest of the season will go.

Memphis Defense: Navy averages 371.5 yards per game rushing. The Tigers' defense gives up 116.3 yards rushing per game. Something has to give.

Shane Buechele, SMU: Can the once highly touted quarterback lead SMU to a 5-0 start with a road win vs USF?

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