Around the American: Houston survives scare, USF sinks Navy

Navy quarterback Will Worth scores on a 1-yard touchdown run against South Florida during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. Worth had four touchdown runs in Navy's 52-45 loss. (Chris O'Meara/AP Photo)

At the end of October, the American Athletic Conference standings are starting to take shape. All 12 teams in the conference have played at least four of their eight conference games, and many have played more than that.

In the East Division, there are two teams with four conference wins, while three teams only have one. The West is much more balanced, with five of six teams owning a conference record of at least .500.

Over the weekend, the 12 teams were all in action against each other, including a big game at the top of the standings and a chance for two schools to get their first conference win.

On Friday night, Navy, the last undefeated team in conference play, traveled to USF for a contest with the Bulls who were tied for first in the East. USF (7-2, 4-1 the American) had just suffered their first loss in the American, and came out with something to prove. The Bulls scored four touchdowns in the first quarter, ending the quarter with a 28-0 lead.

Navy (5-2, 4-1 the American) would score four touchdowns of their own in the fourth quarter to cut the USF lead to seven, but it wouldn’t be enough to climb back from the massive deficit, as the final score was 52-45. Will Worth, quarterback for the run-heavy Midshipmen, surprisingly threw for 299 yards because of Navy fighting from behind throughout the game. For USF, Quinton Flowers, Marlon Mack and D’Ernest Johnson all rushed for over 100 yards in the game. The three Bulls combined for five rushing touchdowns, and Flowers added two more through the air. Navy remains in first place in the West despite their first loss, and USF jumped into sole possession of first in the East until Temple played on Saturday.

Temple would follow USF’s lead by beating Cincinnati 34-13 at home, moving back into a tie for first with the Bulls. Temple (6-3, 4-1 the American) ran for 275 yards in the game, while holding the Bearcats to less than 200 yards of total offense. Cincinnati (4-4, 1-4 the American) continues their disappointing season in conference play, already matching last year’s four losses with three games still to play.

After suffering a tough loss to SMU last week, Houston came home for a matchup against UCF. Houston (7-2, 4-2 the American) was down 24-3 early in the third quarter and the Cougars likely had flashbacks to last week’s upset. However, quarterback Greg Ward Jr. led his team to 28 unanswered points to secure a 31-24 victory. Ward rushed for two touchdowns and threw for 240 yards, but also threw three interceptions. Despite the early lead, UCF (4-4, 2-2 the American) was held to 195 yards of total offense.

Tulane and East Carolina were both looking for their first conference victory, each hosting teams in the bottom half of the conference. ECU (3-5, 1-3 the American) dominated UConn 41-3, snapping a five-game losing streak for the Pirates. Tulane (3-5, 0-5 the American) welcomed an SMU team fresh off of their upset win over Houston. The Green Wave led by 10 with 10 minutes to play, but SMU rallied for a 35-31 win. The Mustangs (4-4, 2-2 the American) win their second conference game in a row behind 302 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Ben Hicks.

Tulsa traveled to Memphis for a contest between two teams tied for second in the West. Tulsa (6-2, 3-1 the American) scored the last 24 points of the game to win 59-30. Senior running back James Flanders ran for 259 yards and five touchdowns for the Golden Hurricane. Memphis (5-3, 2-2 the American) quarterback Riley Ferguson threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.

Next week, key games include Navy hosting nonconference opponent Notre Dame and Cincinnati hosting fellow Big 12 expansion candidate BYU.


Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.