UCF hit the road over the weekend and dominated Cincinnati 51-23 in a weather-shortened game. Next, the No. 22 Knights (4-0, 2-0 AAC) will return to Spectrum Stadium for homecoming, hosting East Carolina on Saturday. What else went down around the AAC in week six?
USF: The No. 18 Bulls (5-0, 2-0 AAC) were off this week. Up Next: vs. Cincinnati
East Carolina: The Pirates (1-5, 1-2 AAC) couldn’t get going against the Temple defense, falling 34-10 at home. Senior Thomas Sirk completed 20 of 38 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown in the loss. The ECU defense allowed 523 yards to a Temple offense that had been struggling this year. Up Next: at No. 22 UCF
Cincinnati: The Bearcats (2-4, 0-2 AAC) couldn’t stop the Knights offense on Saturday, but their offense showed signs of life in the 51-23 loss. Junior Hayden Moore totaled 278 yards and a touchdown through the air and added 75 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The defense, though, couldn’t stop giving up big plays. UCF finished the three-quarter game with 515 total yards. Up Next: at No. 18 USF
Temple: A 24-0 run in the second quarter was key for the Owls (3-3, 1-2 AAC) in a 34-10 win at East Carolina. Sophomore Logan Marchi threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns, while junior David Hood totaled 106 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The defense held ECU under 300 yards and sacked the quarterback four times. Up Next: vs. UConn
UConn: The Huskies (1-4, 0-3 AAC) couldn’t keep up with the Memphis offense, which led to a 70-31 loss on Friday night. Senior Arkeel Newsome ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries. The defense continued to struggle against a high-powered Tigers offense. Memphis put up 711 yards along with its 70 points. Up Next: at Temple
Navy: The No. 25 Midshipmen (5-0, 3-0 AAC) needed a touchdown in the final minute to beat Air Force 48-45. Junior Zach Abey threw a 16-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left to put Navy on top. He finished the day with two touchdown passes, but also rushed for 214 yards and two scores. Up Next: at Memphis
SMU: The Mustangs (4-2, 1-1 AAC) couldn’t put up the points to beat Houston, falling 35-22. Sophomore Ben Hicks threw for 397 yards and a touchdown, but threw two costly interceptions. Junior Trey Quinn caught 17 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Up Next: at Cincinnati (Oct. 21)
Houston: The Cougars (4-1, 2-0 AAC) used a big day from junior Duke Catalon to beat SMU 35-22. Catalon ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. With the game still within reach in the fourth quarter, his second touchdown run put Houston up by two possessions. Up Next: at Tulsa
Memphis: The Tigers (4-1, 1-1 AAC) recovered from their blowout loss to UCF with a blowout win at UConn. In the 70-31 win, senior Riley Ferguson threw for 431 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Anthony Miller was his favorite target, as the two connected 15 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Up Next: vs. No. 25 Navy
Tulane: The Green Wave (3-2, 1-1 AAC) started fast and never looked back in a 62-28 win over Tulsa. Tulane took a 48-7 lead into halftime, effectively ending any hopes for Tulsa. Senior Dontrell Hilliard went for 175 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries. The offense put up 653 yards and held the ball for 43:38. Up Next: at FIU
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane (1-5, 0-2 AAC) was thoroughly beaten down at Tulane on Saturday afternoon, losing 62-28 after falling behind 48-7 at halftime. Freshman Shamari Brooks was one of the only bright spots, running for 104 yards on two touchdowns on 12 carries. The Tulsa defense continued to disappoint, allowing over 550 yards for the fourth time in six games. The other two games, the unit allowed 511 and 446 yards. Up Next: vs. Houston
What does this all mean for UCF?
If it wasn’t clear when the Knights came in at No. 25 last weekend, it’s even clearer now. UCF, now at No. 22, has firmly established itself in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl game. In some ways, the rest of the AAC helped that case this weekend. Navy stayed undefeated and came in at No. 25 in this week’s rankings. Should the Midshipmen beat Memphis this weekend, it will likely set up a top-25 matchup when the Knights travel to Annapolis on Oct. 21. USF, of course, stayed undefeated due to being idle this week. The War on I-4 rivalry game on Black Friday still looks like the big game that will decide the AAC East. If UCF can run through its schedule and win the conference, its résumé will certainly be strong enough to warrant a big bowl berth.
As for the rest of the conference, there again weren’t too many surprises. Houston is still a dark horse to come out of the AAC West, while Memphis showed promise after a big loss to UCF at the end of September. East Carolina, UConn and Tulsa are locks for the bottom of the AAC. Temple, Cincinnati, Tulane and SMU aren’t quite there yet, but will likely finish in the middle of the pack. As the weeks go on, the division races will heat up. Next weekend is a big one for the west, as Navy and Memphis square off. For UCF, it has to be business as usual against a bad ECU team.