It was a rough week for the fledgling AAC. Cincinnati got rocked by Illinois and lost quarterback Munchie Legaux for the season in the process. Brandon Kay played extensively a season ago so there is still a chance for the Bearcats to be the threat we thought they were, but it still doesn’t explain what the defense did in giving up 45 points to the Illini. Memphis and USF both lost winnable non-conference games and SMU needed a touchdown with 12 seconds left to beat FCS Montana State. The league’s first-ever conference game was a clunky affair with five combined turnovers and Houston beating Temple, 22-13, on the strength of five field goals. On the bright side, Louisville rolled, Rutgers looked good and Central Florida looks legit.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time checking out our stock report, but if it is, the above chart is the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Louisville – Teddy Bridgewater did Teddy Bridgewater things as UL beatdown FCS-level Eastern Kentucky. The running game didn’t get rolling like you’d expect against EKU, but when you have one of the top five signal-callers in the entire nation, your offense will be just fine. Week two grade: A
UCF – In eight quarters, the Knights have allowed just seven points. Granted, FIU and Akron aren’t any good, but it is still impressive. Blake Bortles is probably the best quarterback in the league outside of Bridgewater and the Knights’ defense, again, has been outstanding so far. I am very excited to see how this club does at Penn State this weekend. By at Penn State, I of course mean the game played in Ireland. The time honored tradition of two Irish-American coaches squaring off in a sport that no one cares about. The smell of clovers, beer and Leprechaun gold always puts me in the mood for some football! All absurdity aside, that game is a great chance to make a statement as a program and give the AAC a little street cred. Week two grade: A
Cincinnati – As stated, Munchie Legaux’s injury hurts a lot considering how improved he has looked but the loss is made more manageable with Kay. The real concern from that debacle against Illinois was the defense. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase shredded UC for 312 yards and four TDs. If he can do that, what is Bortles going to do against them? Worse, what is Bridgewater going to do? Until the defensive issues are solved, there is no way to buy into the offseason hype that surrounded the Bearcats. Week two grade: D-
Houston – The Cougars put up a lot of yards but when you have to kick four field goals from a distance of 24 yards or less as well as lose a fumble at the six yard line, all those redzone trips feel wasted and the game becomes much closer than it should be. This team could have hammered Temple and made the first intra-AAC game a laugher but it didn’t. Looking towards the positive, if they can clean up the redzone play, they’ll become a factor. Already a factor is Deontay Greenberry. He is averaging almost 12 yards a reception on the young season and after a decent freshman showing a year ago has really looked electric thus far. Week two grade: C
Rutgers – The defense obviously looked better but it was against FCS Norfolk State. Who can we expect going forward? The team that lost at Fresno or the team that thrashed a cupcake? Your guess is as good as mine. One answer could be Paul James who has been outstanding through two games at running back. Nick Marsh has also been on fire as a punter. Maybe a bruising rushing attack combined with pinning teams and winning the field position battle will be how Rutgers blue-collars their way through this year. Week two grade: B+
SMU – Still like the Mustangs as a possible sleeper and maybe they were looking past Montana State with games against Texas A&M and TCU coming up. That being said, that performance was pretty inexcusable. I expect June Jones to use these next two weeks real well. Week two grade: D
Connecticut – Idle
Memphis – They played Duke pretty tough and showed some grit. We definitely give the Tigers an “A” for effort but they don’t have enough talent yet to really compete. The rushing game obviously needs some help. On the positive, they should have the Guy Award winner this year in punter Tom Hornsey. Week two grade: C-
USF – Bobby Eveld finished 6-of-25 for 66 yards with a pick producing a 4.5 QBR. What does a USF backup have to do to get into the game? Look I know Michigan State has a really solid defense but come on. Until the offense has a shred of consistency, the Bulls will continue to sputter like they did last Saturday, losing 21-6. Week two grade: F
Temple – Other than the defense finding ways to stop them in the redzone, that Houston game was pretty bad. The Owls could’ve been crushed but managed hang around and 22-13 doesn’t really reflect how the game went. Between roster turnover and new coaches this was going to be a long season. The effort was there against Houston but the talent couldn’t match the work the Owls put in. They’ll probably dig out a win at some point with that scrappy effort, but 2013 is all about building for the future. Week two grade: D
Buy That Kid Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it):
Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Rutgers) – Ah man, two in a row and this one came against a FCS team. I hate doing it but he earned it. 23/32, 397 yards, 12.4 avg, an Abe Lincoln (four scores), 0 INT, 96.2 QBR.
Derrick Matthews (LB, Houston) and Adrian McDonald (DB, Houston) – The Cougar teammates did work against Temple. Matthews collected 11 solo tackles (13 total) and broke up a pass. McDonald racked up seven tackles (all solo) but most importantly, he returned an interception 40 yards to the 12-yard line in the fourth quarter with his team only up by two points. The offense’s touchdown two plays later iced the game.
Tom Hornsey (P, Memphis) and Richie Leone (K/P, Houston) – A special teams battle royale! Here was Hornsey’s work: Seven punts, 319 yards, 45.6 avg, zero touchbacks, four inside the 20, long of 79. Leone: 5/6 FG, long of 40, 16 points; two punts, 80 yards, 40 avg, zero touchbacks, one inside the 20, long of 47. In a perfect world, I’d give the edge to Leone since Houston needed all his points. In a Hornsey world, I’ll give it to the guy who had a 79-yard punt.
Dunce of the week:
USF’s passing game, rushing game, offense and scoring ability. It was so bad it deserved the redundancy. Two Bull quarterbacks combined to go 6/26, 66 yards without a touchdown but one interception. The ground game produced 89 yards and another turnover. U-G-L-Y.