Around the American: Memphis upsets Josh Rosen and UCLA

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (3), running back Nate Starks (23), and offensive lineman Zach Sweeney (60) leave the field after UCLA lost to Memphis 48-45 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Let’s look at the football results in the American Athletic Conference from the past weekend, led by a statement win from the Memphis Tigers.

Memphis 48, UCLA 45

UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson could not have had two different paths to this game as college quarterbacks.

Rosen came out of high school as a can’t-miss prospect with a high-profile recruitment. He played very well in his freshman year at UCLA, got injured in his second year and was very outspoken about social issues this past offseason, setting a huge stage for his junior season.

Three years ago, Ferguson was detailing cars for seven dollars an hour on an eight-month break from football. On Saturday, he outdueled the potential No. 1 pick, leading Memphis to a 48-45 win over UCLA.

Ferguson completed 34-of-56 passes for 398 yards and six touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to put Memphis ahead. Ten minutes and one weird fake field goal over-the-head double pass later, Memphis upset UCLA, gaining a statement win and solidifying their place at the top of the American.

Oklahoma 56, Tulane 14

Tulane had some success early in this one and they were tied with a red-hot Oklahoma team after the first quarter. Then, they got blanked 34-0 in the following three.

Tulane relies heavily on their option offense, but it wasn’t terribly efficient on Saturday. Running back Dontrell Hilliard had 104 yards on 5.5 yards per carry, but quarterback Johnathan Brantley, usually the lynchpin to the option, had only 60 yards on 3.1 yards per carry.

The Tulane defensive line struggled, as expected, against the blue-chip players on Oklahoma’s offensive line. The Sooners had 197 yards on the ground, allowing Baker Mayfield to cook through the air, going 17-for-27 for 331 yards and four TDs.

USF 47, Illinois 23

USF’s game against Illinois was delayed 37 minutes by lighting, but that didn’t stop USF from making quick work of the only Power Five opponent on their schedule.

USF nearly doubled Illinois’ time of possession, mostly as a result of their versatile and dominant run game. The Bulls rushed for 367 yards, and three different players had over 100 yards rushing: running backs D’Ernest Johnson (101) and Darius Tice (106) and quarterback Quinton Flowers (105).

Flowers had a very solid game through the air as well, completing 15-of-27 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns.

USF’s front seven showed out, limiting Illinois’ rushing attack to just 67 yards on the day.

Temple 29, UMass 21

Before week three, many teams, including Miami, UTSA and Houston, were 1-0 on the year, as their games were affected by hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Before their matchup against Temple on Thursday, UMass had already played three games, and lost them all.

Not even a year removed from winning the American Championship, Temple struggled against a UMass team desperately hanging on in the FBS subdivision. The Owls had a terrible day on defense, giving up 377 yards passing and two touchdowns to UMass quarterback Andrew Ford.

The one bright spot on offense was the continued development of sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi, who completed 22-of-37 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

The game came down to the final play. UMass was down by eight and attempted a Hail Mary pass from their own 33-yard line. Ford was sacked and fumbled the ball. Running back Nick Orekoya picked up and returned all the way to Temple’s 35-yard line, where he was finally brought down, a fitting ending to a very dumb game.

Virginia Tech 64, East Carolina 17

This game was an all-out shelling of ECU, who have had an abysmal start to the season as they continued their tour of Appalachia, losing to Virginia Tech 64-17.

Their defense was again terrible, making Virginia Tech freshman quarterback Josh Jackson look like a Heisman contender as he completed 24-of-31 passing attempts for 372 yards and five touchdowns, and allowing 247 yards rushing.

In recent years, ECU’s dynamic offense has been its calling card but even that looked anemic on Saturday. Quarterback Gardner Minshew only completed 36 percent of his passes, and the Pirates only rushed for 40 yards on 1.3 yards per carry.

TCU 56, SMU 36

SMU put up a hell of a fight against TCU on Saturday, even though their two best players had down games. SMU was within a touchdown until the fourth quarter, and promptly gave up three touchdowns, which put the game far out of reach.

TCU had one objective on defense and that was to take SMU’s star receiver Courtland Sutton out of the game. Sutton only caught one pass for zero yards, and that clearly affected quarterback Ben Hicks, who only completed 17-of-37 pass attempts and threw two interceptions.

SMU’s defense got shredded by TCU quarterback Kenny Hill, who threw for 365 yards to 12 different receivers.

Tulsa 54, Toledo 51

Tulsa and Toledo exploded on offense in a thriller on Saturday afternoon. The two teams combined for over 1,200 yards of total offense and only punted the ball three times each in a matchup of high-scoring teams.

Tulsa was fearsome on the ground, rushing for 423 yards on a whopping 6.3 yards per carry. Quarterback Chad President and running backs D’Angelo Brewer and Shamari Brooks each had over 125 yards rushing on the day behind Tulsa’s elite offensive line.

Toledo got their offensive fireworks from their passing game. Quarterback Logan Woodside completed 22-of-33 passes for a staggering 458 yards and six touchdowns.

Toledo was down 14 at the half but stormed back with a 22-point third quarter, and eventually won when kicker Jameson Vest nailed a 33-yard field goal as time expired.

Houston 38, Rice 3

In 1941, Johnny Goyen, sports editor for Houston student newspaper The Cougar, began a petition for the creation of an intercollegiate football team at the university to challenge the crosstown Rice Owls’ established squad. The petition worked, and Houston began playing football that year.

In their first game, Rice squashed Houston and the two teams didn’t play again until 1971 when Houston joined the Southwest Conference. Houston is 30-11 all-time against Rice, and has won five out of the last six games.

Houston football was literally born as a response to Rice, and 76 years later the game doesn’t matter much at all. Cougar quarterback Kyle Allen completed 94 percent of his passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns, and this game didn’t matter very much because Houston is very good and Rice is very bad.


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