Say what you will about its level of talent, but the AAC had one heck of an amazing weekend in terms of excitement. The UCF-Louisville and BYU-Houston games were absolute delights to watch. Memphis also had a close game. If the game had been 63 minutes, they may have won.
Cincinnati - Thanks to Louisville’s loss, the 2-1 Bearcats’ are back in the hunt for a league title. They dominated Connecticut on both sides of the ball, and Brandon Kay had an outstanding day shredding the UConn secondary. Week eight grade: A
Houston - I know they lost, but that BYU team was their best competition yet. A few more defensive plays, especially late, and Houston would still be undefeated. Obviously BYU isn’t in the league, so the Houston’s conference record remains unblemished. They head to New Jersey this week to take on Rutgers in their first difficult league game. Week eight grade: B-
Louisville - They are still the most talented team in the conference, but, since UCF has the tiebreaker, the Cardinals do need some help. Statistically they have the 2nd best scoring defense in the nation. However, that didn’t mean anything against the Knights. Louisville takes on high-scoring Houston on the 16th, let’s see how they respond to that test. Week eight grade: D
UCF - I thought the Knights were capable of pulling off the upset, but I did not figure it would be rallying from a 28-7 hole. What a game. It was a huge win for the program (highest ranked team they’ve ever beaten) and important for the AAC. No one in the league office would ever admit to this, but there is no way the conference wanted Louisville (or Rutgers) to win this title. After the season Louisville heads out to the Atlantic Coast, and Rutgers is off to the Big Ten. For the AAC to have any legitimacy, they really needed Houston or UCF to come through. Perhaps this can springboard the league for next season. Week eight grade: A
Rutgers - Idle
USF - Idle
Connecticut - They are halfway home to a winless campaign. Next up: at UCF and Louisville. Chalk up 0-8. After that they travel to SMU and Temple, then host Rutgers and Memphis. It looks like that trip to Philly and home game against the Tigers are their best chances to avoid the black eye of 0-12. Regardless, it’s been a rough season to sit through, even if they do close out 2013 with a couple wins. Week eight grade: F
Memphis - Those 19 fourth quarter points were fun. It’s too bad that the final touchdown couldn’t have been scored a little earlier to allow for an onside kick. Week eight grade: C-
SMU - Even in a league as weak as the AAC, the 120th ranked scoring defense won’t cut it. They do have Temple, UConn and USF left, though. One upset along the way, and a bowl might fall into their laps. Week eight grade: C+
Temple - Well they knocked off Army to get a win. That doesn’t exactly atone for losing to FCS Fordham or FCS-worthy Idaho. Has any team ever started 0-6 and rallied and then made the bowl? Temple isn’t stringing together five more wins, so consider that a rhetorical question. Hooray mootness! Week eight grade: A
Buy that kid dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
Blake Bortles (QB, UCF) – This is easiest one all year, honestly. 21/32, 250 yards, 7.8 avg, 2 TD, 1 INT, 76.8 QBR on the road against top-10 Louisville. He was incredible in their final drive going 6/8 for 65 yards and the score.
Nate Smith (LB, Temple) - 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and a 19-yard scoop and score that demoralized Army just before halftime.
Sean Galvin (K, UCF) - Galvin wins the “hidden yards” award this week after an impressive day kicking off. Also credit the ten men who line up with him to cover those kicks. Galvin kicked the ball off 7 times and had these results:
-14 yard return to the 14
-13 yard return to the 15
-Washed out return because of a hold (drive starts at the 12)
What a day for Galvin and that unit, especially the back-to-back kicks where Louisville started drives in horrid field position.
Dunce of the Week
Anyone who didn’t follow my advice and watch UCF/Louisville and BYU/Houston. Those two games were fantastic. The Knights last-second win was filled with tension, and the Cougar Bowl was an offensive explosion. The game was 34-38 … at halftime! The 13-point fourth quarter by BYU, as they came from behind, was as tense as the UCF tilt. As I said at the open: this is far from being a good league, but they can still put on a show. Next week’s best match-up is Houston at Rutgers: another fun one.