Around the American: South Florida move to 7-0, East Carolina makes a comeback

South Florida running back D'Ernest Johnson (2) stiff-arms Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson (17) on a run during the second half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle)

There were no huge surprises in AAC action this week, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few fun games. The AAC East is starting to sort itself out, with Central Florida and South Florida seemingly on a collision course for a division-deciding game in the last week of the regular season.

On the other side of the conference, Memphis has separated itself from the rest of the pack, keeping its hopes for a New Year’s Six bowl alive. Here’s just what transpired this week:

South Florida 34, Tulane 28

South Florida faced a bigger challenge than usual when they took on a Tulane team that has been feisty as of late but they still came out with the win to move to 7-0 on the year.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers didn’t have the most impressive day passing the ball, only completing ten passes for 127 yards, but he threw for two touchdowns on the day, and South Florida doesn’t need him to do much more than that.

South Florida’s rushing game has been incredible this year, and this game certainly showcased it. Running back Darius Tice and Flowers both took 13 carries for 141 and 138 yards respectively, each scoring a touchdown. Running Back D’Ernest Johnson added on 84 yards and a touchdown himself.

South Florida’s defense has returned in fearsome form this year and completely shut down Tulane’s dangerous attack, holding the Green Wave to only 4.1 yards per carry. This forced Tulane to take to the air, where quarterback Jonathan Banks acquitted himself well, throwing for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

SMU 31, Cincinnati 28

SMU coach Chad Morris took a pretty big gamble when he went for it on fourth down in overtime against Cincinnati on Saturday, but it paid off, and SMU eventually won the game.

But it wasn’t fourth and short. It wasn’t even fourth and 10. It was fourth and 26. Quarterback Ben Hicks was forced out of the pocket, rolled to his right, and was nearly out of bounds when he fired a bullet to Trey Quinn for a 28-yard gain and a first down.

Linebacker Kryan Mitchell then intercepted a Hayden Moore lateral off another player’s helmet to end the game on the next possession.

Hicks had a great day slinging the ball around, completing 70 percent of his passes for 295 yards, most of them to Quinn, who had 17 receptions for a career-high of 186 yards.

UCF 31, Navy 21

Navy gave Central Florida a bigger test than the Knights have been used to this season; their hopes of scoring an upset were dashed when starting quarterback Zach Abey went down with a potential concussion in the third quarter.

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton was pedestrian compared to his meteoric play that started the season. He was efficient, completing 15 of 23 passes for 233 yards, but threw an interception right after a long touchdown drive by Navy in the third quarter, seemingly turning momentum in the game.

Central Florida’s rushing attack needed to step up, and step up they certainly did. Running back Adrian Killins rushed for 122 yard and two touchdowns

Central Florida moves to 6-0, the best start in school’s history, and now they might control their own destiny in their bid for for a New Year's’ Six bowl game.

Memphis 42, Houston 38

Trailing by 17 in the second half on the road, most teams would’ve lain down and let Houston run over them, but not Memphis. Tigers quarterback Riley Ferguson had another outstanding game, leading his team back to a thrilling win with an efficient 80-yard drive at the end of the fourth quarter to finish off Houston

Ferguson completed an insane 33 of 53 passes for 471 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Anthony Miller had another outstanding day, catching 10 balls for 178 yards.

Houston quarterback Kyle Postman had a much-improved game, completing 29 of 40 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown, and running back Dillon Birden continued to impress for the Cougars, carrying the rock 21 times for 106 yards.

Army 31, Temple 28

Temple’s offense finally came together as a cohesive unit on Saturday, but it still wasn’t enough to top Army in overtime.

Temple quarterback Frank Nutile and running back Ryquell Armstead both had their best game of the season. Nutile completed 20 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown, while Armstead rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

The game came down to the wire, and backup Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins led Army, a team definitely not built for the two-minute drill, on a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. Hopkins completed five passes on the drive, which is two more passes than Army had attempted in the entire game before that.

East Carolina 33, BYU 17

East Carolina stopped their three-game free fall on Saturday as they beat struggling BYU. The Pirates’s defense has averaged over 570 yards per game this season but they stepped up to the plate in this one, only allowing 421 yards of total offense.


Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.