American Athletic Conference Roundup: Week 4 Scores, Rankings, Reactions

Week 4 American Athletic Conference Roundup

American Player of the Week

Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. accounted for six touchdowns and 365 yards in the Cougars’ 59-14 defeat of Texas State.

American Game of the Year Won’t Include Cincinnati

Cincinnati couldn’t handle the pressure that comes with being the preseason favorite in the American Athletic Conference.

The Bearcats were the league’s most talked about program in August. So, the defense had holes that needed to be filled. Big whoop. With QB Gunner Kiel and all of his favorite weapons back, Cincy would clear all hurdles by simply out-Gunnering everyone on the schedule. Except, very little went as planned in September.

There’s only one 0-2 team in American play through the first month of the season. Yup, Cincinnati. Funny how conventional wisdom and offseason certainty are so often displaced by reality. The Bearcats couldn’t outfox the Temple D or the Memphis offense, resulting in an East Division hole from which they likely won’t escape.

Displacing Cincinnati as potential frontrunners are the Owls in the East and Memphis, Navy and Houston out of the West. Even Tulsa has a chance to break through in a West half of the American that suddenly features a lot of intrigue and potential must-see games.

While Temple is liable to coast to the first-ever American conference title game, even after East Carolina upset Virginia Tech, the West Division is going to be a dogfight of distinctly different personalities. Memphis can outscore anyone. Navy’s triple-option is a curveball for the rest of the league. And Houston might be playing better than anyone in Tom Herman’s debut with the team.

One month into the season, the American is rife with possibilities and upcoming games that’ll help determine a champion. However, Cincinnati will not be participating in any of those pivotal matchups. The trendy pick to wear the crown—and compete for a Big Six bowl berth—was the league’s biggest disappointment of September.

Cincinnati

L, at Memphis 53-46

The Bearcats lost for the second time this year, but found a quarterback for the future in Memphis Thursday night. Pressed into action after Gunner Kiel was injured, redshirt freshman Hayden Moore, completed 31-of-53 passes for a school-record 557 yards, four touchdowns and two picks. Moore looks like a fine insurance policy and a potential franchise for the future.

East Carolina

W, Virginia Tech 35-28

From where in the world did you come, son? Junior James Summers, a Hinds (Miss.) Community College transfer, had attempted four passes in his brief Pirate career. Yet, there he was on Saturday, leading ECU to another upset of Virginia Tech with 279 total yards and three scores. Summers ran wild on a very good Hokie defense, which will make for an interesting decision going forward since starter Blake Kemp wasn’t injured.

Houston

W, Texas State 59-14

New Cougar head coach Tom Herman railed on his receivers during the summer. The unit, maligned by drops and inconsistency, is now beginning to complement the playmaking ability of QB Greg Ward Jr. Led by steady junior Demarcus Ayers, three Houston wide receivers caught touchdown passes in the annihilation of Texas State, including untapped Oregon transfer Chance Allen.

Memphis

W, Cincinnati 53-46

Paxton Lynch and the offense will carry the unbeaten Tigers a long way in 2015. But will an inability to make stops and defend the pass eventually catch up to this team, a la the Conference USA’s Hilltoppers? Memphis has now allowed 97 points in the last two games, yielding 38 first downs and 752 yards Thursday to a Cincinnati team led for most of the game by a rookie quarterback.

Navy

W, at Connecticut 28-18

QB Keenan Reynolds accounted for four more touchdowns, but the big story in unbeaten Navy’s 28-18 win at UConn was the performance of the defense. The Midshipmen, rarely prone to creating defensive havoc, racked up five sacks. As a point of reference, Navy got to the quarterback eight times in 13 games a year ago. It also broke up six passes Saturday in an encouraging day of work for the D.

SMU

L, James Madison 48-45

No one said Chad Morris was brought aboard to fix the defense. The Mustang D is behind the offense, as evidenced by Saturday’s 48-45 loss to FCS James Madison. SMU was trampled by former Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee, who accounted for five scores and well over 500 yards of offense. Until the defensive personnel and fundamentals improve, SMU will remain vulnerable in shootouts … regardless of the opponent.

UCF

L, at South Carolina 31-14

In a season that’s rapidly circling the drain in Orlando, the Knights saw glimpses of optimism on an offense pining for help. Rookie QB Bo Schneider flashed some long-term potential by completing 20-of-35 for 189 yards, one touchdown and two picks in the loss to South Carolina. And WR Tre’Quan Smith was UCF’s best skill player, making five grabs for 82 yards and a score.

American Athletic Conference Rankings After Week 4

American Athletic East

1. Temple (3-0)
2. East Carolina (2-2)
3. Cincinnati (2-2)
4. South Florida (1-2)
5. Connecticut (2-2)
6. UCF (0-4)

American Athletic West

1. Houston (3-0)
2. Navy (3-0)
3. Memphis (4-0)
4. Tulsa (2-1)
5. SMU (1-3)
6. Tulane (1-2)

Scores & Picks: How’d We Do?

2015 American Athletic Picks Through Week 4: Straight-Up: 29-9, ATS: 16-10-1

at Memphis 53, Cincinnati 46

Line: Memphis -10.5, o/u: 65, Prediction: Memphis 42, Cincinnati 24
Three Thing Recap & Analysis

at South Carolina 31, UCF 14

Line: South Carolina -14.5, o/u: 45 Prediction: South Carolina 27, UCF 10
Three Thing Recap & Analysis

Navy 28, at Connecticut 18

Line: Navy -6.5, o/u: 50.5 , Prediction: Navy 24, Connecticut 17

at East Carolina 35, Virginia Tech 28

Line: Virginia Tech -8, o/u: 56.5, Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, East Carolina 24

James Madison 48, at SMU 45

Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: SMU 41, James Madison 34

at Houston 59, Texas State 14

Line: Houston -15, o/u: 69, Prediction: Houston 45, Texas State 24

MORE: Week 4 College Football Rankings, No. 1-128