American Athletic Week 2 Roundup, Rankings, Breakdowns & Recaps
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American Player of the Week
Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. sparked an upset of Louisville by throwing three touchdown passes and accounting for 334 yards of total offense.
Scroll down for thoughts on each American Athletic team, recaps and picks
American Athletic East Rankings After Week 2
1. Temple (2-0)
2. Cincinnati (1-1)
3. East Carolina (1-1)
4. South Florida (1-1)
5. UCF (0-2)
6. Connecticut (2-0)
American Athletic West Rankings After Week 2
1. Houston (2-0)
2. Memphis (2-0)
3. Navy (1-0)
4. SMU (1-1)
5. Tulsa (2-0)
6. Tulane (0-2)
Houston’s Tom Herman Paying Early Dividends
Saturday’s upset of Louisville—at Papa John’s Stadium—was Exhibit A why the Houston administration fired a coach who won seven games and earned a bowl bid in 2014.
The Cougars expect more than mediocrity from their football program. They want titles and national attention … and possibly even interest down the road from the Big 12. And that’s why they plucked Herman out of Ohio State after he’d done such a brilliant job coaching the Buckeye offense and quarterbacks.
Well, just two games into his tenure, Herman already has his first signature win as a Cougar.
Houston went into Louisville and won as a heavy underdog, which means it now has to be considered a contender in the wide-open American Athletic Conference.
Herman, one of the game’s best quarterback teachers, is at it again with Greg Ward Jr. The shifty Ward vexed a solid Cardinal defense all afternoon by throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for just under 100 yards. Plus, the Cougars produced an almost perfectly balanced 462 total yards, which is going to cause a heap of problems down the road for opponents.
Last week, Temple made a statement by beating Penn State. In Week 2, Houston carried the league banner with its upset of Louisville. The Owls and the Cougars don’t meet in the regular season. However, after the first two weekends, the odds that they’ll see one another in the Dec. 5 American championship game have improved markedly in a very short period of time.
Gunner Kiel is like most quarterbacks, regardless of the level. Send enough pressure his way and he’s going to make mistakes. He felt plenty of heat versus Temple, subsequently throwing four interceptions in a loss. Although not many teams boast the Owls’ defensive talent, Kiel’s opponents now have a workable blueprint on how to limit the quarterback’s effectiveness through the air.
East Carolina: QB Blake Kemp
The Pirates may have played Florida tougher than they did Towson a week earlier, thanks in large part to the emergence of Kemp. The backup before Kurt Benkert was injured completed 34-of-55 for 333 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the 31-24 loss. Gator CB Vernon Hargreaves didn’t suit up, but Kemp, without any help from the running game, can build off the game he had in Gainesville.
Memphis: QB Paxton Lynch
Lynch just keeps getting better and better under the guidance of head coach Justin Fuente. Against Kansas, Lynch was almost perfect, completing 22-of-25 passes for 354 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Plus, Lynch’s supporting cast is widening. Eleven different Tigers caught a pass over the weekend, and young Jamarious Henderson led the team with 77 yards on 11 carries.
SMU: Morris’ first win
The ground floor is down now that Chad Morris earned his first win as the Mustang head coach. SMU finished strong versus North Texas, uncharacteristic of June Jones’s last couple of teams. And not only does QB Matt Davis continue to play well as a dual-threat, but true freshman RB Xavier Jones also ran for 94 yards and the D contributed. Baby steps on the Hilltop, but Morris is already elevating this team.
Temple: RB Jahad Thomas
The Owls showed no letdown following their historically important win over Penn State a week earlier. Temple handled Cincinnati in Cincinnati, 34-26, in a game that wasn’t tight until the Bearcats rallied late in the final quarter. The missing link on offense for the Owls has been RB Jahad Thomas whose 193 yards and a score helped bolster a passing game that remains pedestrian.
Tulane: The wheels are off
If something doesn’t shift the momentum in a hurry, the Green Wave’s 2015 season is liable to circle the drain before the end of the month. It’s one thing to lose to Duke and Georgia Tech to open the year. But it’s another thing entirely to lose by a combined score of 102-17. Tulane has done nothing right through eight quarters, which will heap more pressure on head coach Curtis Johnson.
Predictions & Picks: How’d We Do?
Straight Up: 17-4 ATS: 8-6
Florida State 34, South Florida 14
Line: Florida State -27.5, o/u: 53, Prediction: Florida State 37, South Florida 13
Connecticut 22, Army West 15
Line: Connecticut -7.5, o/u: 47, Prediction: Connecticut 26, Army 20
Houston 34, Louisville 31
Line: Louisville -12.5, o/u: 54, Prediction: Louisville 34, Houston 20
Georgia Tech 65, Tulane 10
Line: Georgia Tech -28.5, o/u: 54.5, Prediction: Georgia Tech 49, Tulane 14
Florida 31, East Carolina 24
Line: Florida -20, o/u: 53.5, Prediction: Florida 34, East Carolina 16
Memphis 55, Kansas 23
Line: Memphis -13.5, o/u: 58, Prediction: Memphis 41, Kansas 21
SMU 31, North Texas 13
Line: SMU -4.5, o/u: 59, Prediction: SMU 35, North Texas 27
Temple 34, Cincinnati 26
Line: Cincinnati -6.5, o/u: 51.5, Prediction: Temple 23, Cincinnati 17
Tulsa 40, New Mexico 21
Line: New Mexico -4, o/u: 71.5, Prediction: New Mexico 38, Tulsa 31