American Athletic Week 3 Roundup, Rankings, Breakdowns & Recaps
Follow and/or Contact @RichCirminiello
Scroll down for thoughts on each American Athletic team, recaps and picks.
American Player of the Week
Navy QB Keenan Reynolds ran for five touchdowns and 142 yards on 24 carries as the Midshipmen crushed East Carolina, 45-21.
American Athletic East Rankings After Week 3
1. Temple (3-0)
2. Cincinnati (2-1)
3. East Carolina (1-2)
4. South Florida (1-2)
5. Connecticut (2-1)
6. UCF (0-3)
American Athletic West Rankings After Week 3
1. Houston (3-0)
2. Memphis (3-0)
3. Navy (2-0)
4. SMU (1-2)
5. Tulsa (2-1)
6. Tulane (1-2)
It was a good run, Coach O’Leary
Prior to the start of the season, UCF’s George O’Leary hinted that this will be his final season as a head coach. The university and transitioning administration might soon be dropping similar hints.
There’ll be no Hollywood finish for O’Leary, if indeed this is his final fall on the sidelines. Too bad, because he’s been the face of this program’s evolution since arriving in Orlando 11 years ago looking for a new lease on his coaching life. O’Leary, the Notre Dame resume scandal still dogging him, needed the Knights at that time. And the Knights needed O’Leary.
It’s been an imperfect run for an imperfect man. But without O’Leary, Bright House Networks Stadium doesn’t get built. Baylor doesn’t get beaten in the Fiesta Bowl. Alums don’t get taken third overall in the NFL Draft. And the nation doesn’t become aware of a program from a state that also houses Florida, Florida State and Miami. O’Leary helped changed the narrative about UCF football.
But what will likely be his final UCF team is just plain awful.
The Knights are 0-3 for the first time since going winless in O’Leary’s first year on the job. Two of those losses came at home to Florida International and Furman, on Saturday, bullet points when evaluating the country’s worst programs.
UCF can no longer score, making the Blake Bortles era feel like a generation ago. The defense, long the staple in these parts, has stopped making money plays. The O-line is overmatched. Barring a complete about-face, getting to the regular season finale is going to be a long and painful process, especially for those seniors who experienced the glory days.
O’Leary is preparing to pass the baton, possibly to trusted offensive coordinator Brent Key if the entire staff doesn’t become tainted by 2015. There’ll be no happy ending for the 69-year-old O’Leary. And that’s too bad, because he’s meant so much to this program, while teaching a clinic on how to rebound from unexpected career detours.
Cincinnati: Flawed defense
The Bearcats held on for the win, but were gashed by Miami. The RedHawks, not the Hurricanes. Miami U. has one of the worst attacks in the FBS, yet still managed to tag Cincinnati for four touchdown passes and well over 400 yards of total offense. Cincy was the preseason favorite to win the American, but after losing to Temple and narrowly escaping a bad MAC team, the narrative has quickly changed for Tommy Tuberville’s squad.
Connecticut: An offense away from being dangerous
The Huskies put up a valiant effort at Mizzou, but fell short, 9-6, after a fake field goal attempt was denied. UConn is essentially a poor-man’s Boston College these days; the D is scrappy enough to keep the team competitive against better opponents, but the offense prevents the upset from happening. The Huskies averaged less than four yards a play in Columbia, a lack of pop that’s become the program’s identity.
Navy: Reynolds plus Swain
The Midshipmen won their first game as a member of the American behind the backfield tandem of FB Chris Swain and QB Keenan Reynolds. It’s a duo that the rest of the rest of the league with whom the rest of the league will soon be acquainted. The pair combined for six rushing touchdowns, five from Reynolds, and gives Navy an ideal thunder-lightning duo as the basis of the triple-option.
Memphis: Repeat material
Maybe the Tigers belong in the championship discussion after all. After winning a share of the 2014 American title, Memphis was expected to retreat somewhat since so many key players graduated. But Saturday’s 44-41 shootout win over Bowling Green indicated that as long as Justin Fuente is on the sidelines and Paxton Lynch, who threw three touchdown passes, is under center, the Tigers will have a say in who wears the league crown.
South Florida: One step forward, two steps back
Just when it looked as if the Bulls were making strides, they go out and, well, do a USF impersonation. After showing hints of progress in its first two games, South Florida flopped in College Park to Maryland. The defense allowed too many long balls through the air, while QB Quinton Flowers regressed as the offensive point man. It’s back to the drawing board—again—for Willie Taggart and his staff.
Temple: Winning ugly
The Owls are finding ways to win, even when they don’t play their best football. And that’s one of the hallmarks of a maturing program. Although Temple had too many turnovers and gave up too many big plays through the air to Massachusetts, it still clawed its way to a two-point win on a field goal in the waning seconds. The old Temple doesn’t pull this game out, but this is a new era of football in Philadelphia.
Tulsa: The offense
The Golden Hurricane did on Saturday what Tennessee couldn’t a week ago—confuse the Oklahoma defense. Tulsa put a good Sooner D on its heels all game, amassing more than 600 yards and five touchdowns. And the Hurricane is deftly spreading the ball around, with RB Zack Langer and receivers Keyarris Garrett and Joshua Atkinson each accounting for more than 100 yards. It has not taken long for Philip Montgomery’s system to be absorbed by his new team.
Week 3 Scores & Picks: How’d We Do?
American Athletic Conference Picks Through Week 3: Straight Up: 25-7, ATS: 12-9-1
at Maryland 35, South Florida 17
Line: Maryland -7.5, o/u: 51.5, Prediction: South Florida 27, Maryland 24
at Missouri 9, Connecticut 6
Line: Missouri -21.5, o/u: 39, Prediction: Missouri 31, Connecticut 13
at Oklahoma 52, Tulsa 38
Line: Oklahoma -30.5, o/u: 71.5, Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Tulsa 23
Temple 25, at Massachusetts 23
Line: Temple -10.5, o/u: 54.5, Prediction: Temple 34, UMass 14
Memphis 44, at Bowling Green 41
Line: Memphis -3, o/u: 79, Prediction: Bowling Green 38, Memphis 35
Cincinnati 37, at Miami University 33
Line: Cincinnati -18.5, o/u: 60, Prediction: Cincinnati 45, Miami University 10
at Navy 45, East Carolina 21
Line: Navy -3.5, o/u: 58, Prediction: Navy 34, East Carolina 30
Furman 16, at UCF 15
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: UCF 30, Furman 13
at Tulane 38, Maine 7
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Tulane 28, Maine 17
at TCU 56, SMU 37
Line: TCU -37.5, o/u: 67, Prediction: TCU 52, SMU 17