Around The American: A big weekend for the Power 6

Memphis wide receiver Kedarian Jones (13) catches a pass for a touchdown ahead of Tulane safety P.J. Hall (16) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

The American Athletic Conference only had five games this week, but it was quite a thrilling five games. There were shootouts, fourth-down conversions and undefeated teams crumbling. Here’s what happened in an eventful week eight:

Memphis 56, Tulane 26

A three-touchdown, 298-yard day from Riley Ferguson sealed the game for Memphis on Saturday as they extended their winning streak to three in a row.

Memphis running backs Tony Pollard and Darrell Henderson both had explosive outings. Pollard had 125 all-purpose yards, including a 58-yard reverse that went for a touchdown, while Henderson had 112 yards on only 10 carries.

Linebacker Austin Hall led the Memphis defense in an impressive effort against Tulane’s maddening spread option attack. Memphis held Tulane, which had previously averaged 266 rushing yards per game, to only 122 yards on the ground. Hall himself racked up 11 solo tackles, two tackles for loss and recovered a bad Tulane snap in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Tigers stayed right on track for their goal of making the AAC championship game, sitting atop the AAC West division with three games to play.

SMU 38, Tulsa 36

SMU became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 on Saturday as they held off Tulsa in a thrilling game at home. Quarterback Ben Hicks led the Mustangs, completing 19 of 32 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns.

Hicks spread the ball out, with three different SMU players going over 100 yards receiving. Courtland Sutton led the team in receiving yards with 136 on the day, while Trey Quinn snagged both touchdown passes.

SMU’s ground game didn’t have their finest day. Running back Braeden West led the Mustangs with 89 yards rushing and one touchdown, but also fumbled the ball twice, allowing Tulsa to sneak back into the game.

Houston 28, South Florida 24

South Florida’s undefeated season was cut short on Saturday as Houston potentially ended their bid for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

The game hinged on a miracle Houston 30-yard completion on fourth-and-24 by third string quarterback D’Eriq King to keep the Cougars’ hopes alive. Four plays later, King ran in for a 20-yard touchdown to seal the win for Houston.

Despite the loss, Quinton Flowers had his best passing game of the year, completing 23 of 38 passes for 325 yards. Flowers’ favorite target Marquez Valdez-Scantling had another great game, snagging 10 passes for 186 yards.

Houston completely dominated South Florida on the ground, rushing for 255 yards and more than doubling up the Bulls in yards per carry. Backup running back Mulbah Car led the way, carrying the ball 18 times for 137 yards.

UCF 73, Austin Peay 33

With their directional Florida sibling finally going down, it’s now UCF’s turn to sleepwalk through a win against a far inferior opponent, FCS team Austin Peay.

McKenzie Milton continued his hyper-efficient season, completing a staggering 24 of 26 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns, spreading the ball out to 11 different receivers.

UCF stands as the last undefeated team in the American, and has the inside shot of grabbing the mid-majors’ spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game.


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