UCF picked up a 40-13 blowout win over Memphis on Saturday, then got rewarded on Sunday with a No. 25 ranking in the AP and Coaches poll. Next, the 3-0 Knights will head to Cincinnati. What else went down around the AAC in week five?
USF: The No. 18 Bulls (5-0, 2-0 AAC) used their high-powered offense to get past East Carolina on Saturday by a score of 61-31. USF rushed for 390 yards and five touchdowns, led by 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior D’Ernest Johnson. The defense struggled to stop ECU early, but allowed just seven points in the third quarter and nothing in the fourth. Up Next: vs. Cincinnati (Oct. 14)
East Carolina: ECU (1-4, 1-1 AAC) stayed with No. 18 USF in the first half, but ultimately fell 61-31. The Pirates were outscored 30-7 in the second half, including 13-0 in the fourth quarter. Senior Thomas Sirk continued to impress, even in a loss. He threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns while adding 87 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Up Next: vs. Temple
Cincinnati: The Bearcats (2-3, 0-1 AAC) fell 38-21 on Saturday to Marshall. Freshman Gerrid Doaks rushed for 55 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Fellow freshman Michael Warren II went for 49 yards and a touchdown on just five carries. Cincinnati fell behind 24-0 in the first half, which was a deficit it couldn’t recover from. Up Next: vs. No. 25 UCF
Temple: The Owls (2-3, 0-2 AAC) lost a second straight conference game on Saturday, falling to Houston 20-13. The Cougars took a 20-0 lead with 11:34 left in the third quarter before Temple went on a 13-0 run. The defending conference champions ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback. Up Next: at East Carolina
UConn: Connecticut (1-3, 0-2 AAC) stayed winless in conference play with a 49-28 loss to SMU. The Huskies tied the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs came roaring back with three unanswered touchdowns. Senior Bryant Shirreffs threw for 408 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Up Next: vs. Memphis
Navy: The Midshipmen (4-0, 3-0 AAC) overcame an early 14-0 deficit to beat Tulsa 31-21 and stay perfect in conference play. Junior Zach Abey rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore Malcolm Perry went for 104 yards and a touchdown. Navy rushed for 421 yards total. Up Next: vs. Air Force
SMU: The Mustangs (4-1, 1-0 AAC) won their conference opener over UConn, 49-28. Sophomore Ben Hicks threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Trey Quinn caught 15 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow junior Courtland Sutton hauled in seven for 112 yards and two scores. Up Next: at Houston
Houston: The Cougars (3-1, 1-0 AAC) hung on late for a 20-13 win over Temple. A 20-0 lead almost wasn’t enough, but the defense came up with an interception on the final play to seal the deal. Senior Kyle Postma and sophomore D’Eriq King accounted for Houston’s two touchdowns. Up Next: vs. SMU
Memphis: The Tigers fell for the first time this season, losing to UCF by a score of 40-13. Memphis scored on its first drive to take a 7-6 lead, but were dominated from there. Senior Riley Ferguson threw for 321 yards and a late touchdown, but was intercepted three times and fumbled once. Up Next: at UConn
Tulane: The Green Wave were off this week. Up Next: vs. Tulsa
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane (1-4, 0-1 AAC) continued to struggle on Saturday, losing a 14-0 lead to Navy in a 31-21 loss. Sophomore Chad President ran for 151 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. The defense started strong, but eventually wore down as the game went on. Up Next: at Tulane
What does this all mean for UCF?
With conference play in full swing, teams are starting to separate themselves. In the AAC East, it’s clear that it’s a two-team race. No. 18 USF and No. 25 UCF are on a collision course that ends on Black Friday when the Knights host the Bulls. If both teams keep playing the way they have so far, that game will surely decide the division’s representative in the conference championship game. For the rest of the teams, it looks like they can hope to play spoiler. East Carolina, Temple, UConn and Cincinnati are all a step behind the two Florida teams at the moment.
In the AAC West, Navy is looking like the team to beat. Its rushing attack is wearing teams down and leading to big results. SMU’s offense is looking strong, which could lead to big things for the Mustangs in the coming months. Memphis, the preseason favorite to win the division, took a big hit this weekend. The Tigers didn’t look like favorites to win anything in their blowout loss to the Knights, but their offense is too good to not compete down the line. Houston could very well be in the mix too, but Tulsa and Tulane both seem to be destined for the bottom of the division.