The American Athletic Conference had 11 of 12 teams in action this weekend, with Tulsa getting the week off. This week’s slate of games included four conference matchups, and three schools going on the road to play nonconference opponents.
On national television Thursday night, Houston was out for revenge against a UConn team that was responsible for the Cougars’ only loss last season. After head coach Tom Herman admitted earlier in the week that “there's some added motivation for this one,” his team went on the field and played like it. The Cougars dominated the Huskies all game, winning by a final score of 42-14. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who missed much of last season’s game with an injury, threw for a career-high 389 yards, rushed for 65 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns in just over three quarters of work.
Houston improved to 5-0 on the year, and 2-0 in the American. The Cougars were leapfrogged by Washington in this week’s AP Poll, but remain at No. 6 with Louisville dropping a few spots after losing to Clemson.
South Florida traveled to East Division rival Cincinnati to play their first conference game. The Bulls (4-1, 1-0 the American) are a favorite to come out of the East and challenge Houston for the conference title, but a conference game on the road against a quality opponent in Cincinnati is no guarantee. USF took care of business, winning 45-20 behind two rushing touchdowns each from Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers. Mack and Flowers rushed for 118 and 74 yards, respectively, and the Bulls defense forced freshman quarterback Ross Trail into three interceptions before Trail was replaced. USF received six votes in this week’s AP Poll.
The Bearcats (3-2, 0-2 the American) are off to a rough start to begin conference play. However, they were without starting quarterback Hayden Moore on Saturday due to an ankle injury and he should be returning soon. Cincinnati has also had a very tough conference schedule, already playing the two favorites in Houston and USF. Things will likely improve for the Bearcats, who are currently sitting in last place in the conference standings.
In the other conference matchups, Temple took care of SMU, winning by the same 45-20 score that USF did. The Owls (3-2, 1-0 the American) were 12.5 point favorites at home, handling business behind sophomore Ryquell Armstead’s 159 yard, two touchdown rushing performance. Central Florida traveled to East Carolina to hand the Pirates (2-3, 0-1 the American) a 47-29 loss. The Knights (3-2, 1-0 the American) were powered by 172 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns by the trio of Dontravious Wilson, Taj McGowan and Jawon Hamilton.
In nonconference action, Navy traveled to Air Force, resulting in a 28-14 defeat and their first loss of the season. It was a strange game for the Midshipmen (3-1, 2-0 the American), who are notorious for their strong rushing attack but only managed to gain 57 yards on the ground.
Memphis had a tough task with playing No. 16 Mississippi on the road. The Tigers (3-1) lost 48-28, and quarterback Riley Ferguson threw three interceptions to dampen his impressive 343 yard day through the air. Memphis has yet to play a conference opponent.
Tulane was also on the road this weekend, taking on UMass. The Golden Hurricane (3-2, 0-1 the American) fell behind 14-0 before putting up 24 unanswered points to lead them to a 21-24 victory. Tulane rushed for 280 yards as a team, led by 99 yards from Dontrell Hilliard.
Next week, all 12 teams in the American play conference games. Notable games include Temple at Memphis on Thursday night as the Tigers’ first conference game, Houston at Navy in a battle between two teams that are 2-0 in conference play and fighting for first place in the West Division and Cincinnati looking to turn things around with a matchup at UConn.
Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.