UCF returned from its unexpected week off on Friday night and beat FAU 56-36 at Spectrum Stadium. The Knights (3-0, 1-0 AAC) are now No. 13 in the AP Poll and will be right back at it on Saturday against Pittsburgh. Before we get there, let’s take a look at what else went on in the AAC during week four.
South Florida: It wasn’t impressive, but the Bulls (4-0, 1-0 AAC) took down East Carolina by a score of 20-13 on Saturday night. The Pirates scored early to put the pressure on before South Florida put up 13 straight points on two scores by quarterback Blake Barnett (one rushing, one passing). Two field goals got ECU back to a tie game by the start of the fourth quarter. The Bulls got a spark from Jordan Cronkrite, who broke through the middle of the line for a go-ahead 80-yard touchdown. From there, the South Florida defense held strong for another win. Up Next: at UMass (Oct. 6)
Temple: The Owls (2-2, 1-0 AAC) began AAC play on Thursday with a 31-17 home win over Tulsa. The passing game wasn’t quite there, but Ryquell Armstead made sure that didn’t matter by rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The defense was also a huge help for Temple as it forced five turnovers and scored two touchdowns. The defensive scoring started with a 36-yard pick six before a fumble was returned 50 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Up Next: at Boston College
Cincinnati: The Bearcats (4-0, 0-0 AAC) stayed undefeated on Saturday, surviving a scare from Ohio in a 34-30 win. The ‘Cats trailed 24-7 at halftime but quickly rallied back after the break. They outscored the Bobcats 27-6 in the final 30 minutes, but still needed a last-minute interception at the goal line to hold on for the victory. Quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns while Michael Warren II ran for 124 and two touchdowns. Up Next: at UConn
East Carolina: The Pirates (1-2, 0-1 AAC) put up a strong fight against South Florida, but ultimately fell 20-13 on the road. Holton Ahlers scored on a two-yard run to open the scoring before the Bulls came firing back. Kicker Jake Verity kept ECU in it with two field goals, tying the contest at 13 early in the third quarter. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that South Florida pulled away with an 80-yard touchdown run. The Pirates outgained their opponents 412-296 and held possession for 38:10, but couldn’t take advantage of it. Up Next: vs. Old Dominion
UConn: The Huskies (1-3, 0-1 AAC) were rolled over by Syracuse on Saturday, losing 51-21. The Orange took an early 21-0 lead and never looked back. Quarterback David Pindell tried to get UConn back in the game with a 75-yard touchdown run, but the defense couldn’t hold. Pindell scored two touchdowns on the day before backup quarterback (and former UCF commit) Marvin Washington threw a 26-yard touchdown. The Huskies allowed 636 yards in the loss. Up Next: vs. Cincinnati
SMU: The Mustangs (1-3, 1-0 AAC) came through with their first win of the year on Saturday, beating Navy 31-30 in overtime. William Brown started at quarterback in place of Ben Hicks, leading SMU to a 23-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Navy fought back to tie the game and force overtime before taking a 30-23 lead to put the pressure on SMU. That’s when coach Sonny Dykes got creative, first by inserting Hicks into the game. The junior didn’t disappoint, throwing a touchdown to James Proche from four yards out. Dykes elected to go for two and the move paid off as Hicks connected with Hunter Thedford for the win. Navy Up Next: vs. Houston Baptist
Navy: The Midshipmen (2-2, 1-1 AAC) suffered a letdown on Saturday at SMU, falling 31-30 in overtime. The Mustangs controlled much of the game, but Navy battled back. After a touchdown put SMU up 23-14, Navy blocked the extra point and returned it for a defensive two-point conversion. Minutes later, CJ Williams ran for a 52-yard touchdown to tie the game. The Midshipmen then scored on their first overtime possession, but a Mustang touchdown and a gutsy two-point conversion call led to the upset. Up Next: at Air Force (Oct. 6)
Houston: The Cougars (3-1, 0-0 AAC) bounced back from last week’s loss with a 70-14 win over Texas Southern on Saturday. They scored the game’s first 49 points. Quarterback D’Eriq King threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns while Kelan Walker ran for 105 and one score. The Cougars totaled 671 yards and picked up 36 first downs in the win. Up Next: vs. Tulsa (Oct. 4)
Tulane: The Green Wave (1-3, 0-0 AAC) never stood a chance on Saturday, falling 49-6 at No. 4 Ohio State. In Urban Meyer’s return to the sideline, the Buckeyes took a 21-0 lead into halftime and went on to outscore Tulane 28-6 over the final 30 minutes. The Green Wave was outgained 570-256 in the loss and failed to get much pushback from the defense. Up Next: vs. Memphis (Friday)
Memphis: The Tigers (3-1, 0-1 AAC) were tied 21-21 at halftime on Saturday, but eventually pulled away from South Alabama for a 52-35 win. They went on 14-0 runs to start both of the final two quarters. Quarterback Brady White put up 292 yards and two touchdowns, but Darrell Henderson was the bigger star. He ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while fellow running back Patrick Taylor Jr. went for 75 yards and two scores on 17 carries. Even in victory, the Memphis defense allowed the Jaguars to put up 467 yards. Up Next: at Tulane (Friday)
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane (1-3, 0-1 AAC) couldn’t overcome their five turnovers in a 31-17 loss to Temple on Thursday night. Corey Taylor II did what he could to keep Tulsa in it, running for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. The defense forced two turnovers of its own, but it wasn’t enough. The Owls were up 28-10 by the end of the third quarter, but a Taylor touchdown run got Tulsa back within 11. Just when the offense was threatening to cut the lead down even further, a fumble turned things around and Temple held on. Up Next: at Houston (Oct. 4)
What does this all mean for UCF?
The AAC continued to be unpredictable this weekend, with some closer-than-expected games and an upset. The SMU win over Navy shook things up a bit in the AAC West, but it was also a surprise to see South Florida tested by East Carolina and Cincinnati need a big comeback to beat Ohio. The AAC East still runs through UCF, with the Bulls and Bearcats having outside shots to unseat the defending champions.
The AAC West is likely a two-team race between Houston and Memphis, with Navy suffering a tough setback this weekend. SMU now sits at the top of the division, but time will tell if the Mustangs are true contenders. The Cougars and Tigers, despite having one loss each, just appear to be on a different level than the rest of the division. If the Knights find themselves in the conference title game, they’ll likely get a tough challenge from a ranked team.