AAC Football Week 13 Preview

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, November 25th, 2017

39 - USF vs. UCF 2016 - USF RB Marlon Mack stiff arms UCF DB D.J. Killings for TD (5165x3448)

By James McAnally

USF (9-1) at UCF (10-1)
Line: Knights -10 / 63.5
TV: Friday, 2:30, ABC
And here we go with the playoff of the Group of Five’s New
Year’s Six Bowl slot.
Boise State might have some argument in the equation, but it’s this
simple. If the winner of this game wins this week, and then takes down
Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship, it’ll get on
the big stage.
The College Football Playoff is out of the picture for an unbeaten
UCF team that just doesn’t have the schedule, but its job is make it a
discussion. Blowout the Bulls, and then there might at least be a spot
in the CFP top ten.
The South Florida offensive line is good at getting the
ground game going, but it has a nightmare of a time at keeping
aggressive defensive fronts out of the backfield.
Awful at giving up tackles for loss, the Bulls need to give
Quinton Flowers and the running game time to operate. Between the
issues up front, and the problems on special teams – the punting game
is awful and the return game worse – UCF has to try dialing up the
pressure in all phases.
Solid against the run, the Knights don’t do a whole lot to get
behind the line, but they don’t let too many things happen down the
field – there aren’t too many second-level runs.
Yes, the UCF passing game is among the nation’s most efficient
and explosive, but now it’s about to deal with the fury coming from
the USF defensive front.
No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss and with a phenomenal pass
rush that takes over games at times, the Bull defense should bring the
heat from the start.
UCF QB McKenzie Milton will have to hurry everything up – he’s not
going to get the time to operate like he normally enjoys. The Knights
haven’t dealt with a defense like this.
At home, UCF will come out roaring, and while Flowers and
company will have their moments, this is the national breakout moment
for Scott Frost and the Knights.
The UCF offense will be too balanced, too explosive, and too effective.
Pick: UCF 34. USF 24

Tulane (5-6) at SMU (6-5)
Line: Mustangs -8 / 67.5
TV: Saturday, 11:00 CBSSN
SMU is going bowling, Tulane needs this to go bowling, and it
should lead to a great fight consider the Mustangs want to stay hot.
Tulane rallied back in a big way following a four-game losing
streak, beating East Carolina and shocking Houston to stay live. Now
they have to get the job done on the road, but it’s had a hard time
away from New Orleans with just that ECU win.
But SMU will take this seriously.
The Mustangs have lost three straight after rolling past Tulsa
and Cincinnati. Put in their place by the American Athletic elite, the
defense has to be better, the O needs to come up with bigger plays at
the right time, and they need to win again just to prove that they
can.
But they’ll have to bomb away to do it.
The passing game has been among the best in the conference
averaging over 300 yards per game, but the run defense has been
miserable.
Tulane’s option attack has been dangerous, and the secondary has
been strong. It just might be the formula to pull this off.
The Green Wave will be frustrating. They’ll control the clock
with the ground game, they’ll keep the SMU offense off the field, and
they’ll go on enough long marches to pull off the upset to get that
sixth win.
Pick: Tulane 34, SMU 31

Navy (6-4) at Houston (6-4)
Line: Cougars -4.5 / 55.5
TV: Friday, 11:00am, ESPN
Both are bowl eligible, and both exited the conference title
stage a while ago. But now they’re fighting for a better bowl
position, even though they’ll go wherever the best geographical
matchups are.
Navy is coming off a good fight against Notre Dame, but it was
another loss. The Midshipmen lost four of their last five games after
winning five straight to start the season.
They still have the showdown with Army to go, but beating
Houston would be a nice win after the tough stretch.
The Cougars are good enough to have handed South Florida its only
loss, and weird enough to get blown out by Tulsa and lose last week to
Tulane. But it all comes down to this – can they slow down the run?
Yeah – they’re fantastic at it, holding USF to just 137 yards and
only allowing more than 200 yards once.
The linebackers are smart and tough, Ed Oliver and the defensive
front can hold their own, and they’ll all keep the Navy option attack
from blowing up.
They already got their training last week against Tulane’s option.
It was a loss, but the Cougars will pull off a fight at home.
Pick: Houston 27, Navy 24

ECU (9-1) at Memphis (3-8)
Line: Tigers -28 / 79
TV: 11:00am, ESPNU
Who wants to see lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of points?
Memphis is off the American Athletic championship against either
UCF or USF, and if it wins this week and next week, it’ll almost
certainly be the Group of Five representative in a New Year’s Six
bowl.
East Carolina has one of the worst secondaries in America.
Memphis QB Riley Ferguson will throw for well over 400 yards and
at least three touchdowns. East Carolina QB Gardner Minshew will throw
for well over 400 yards and at least three touchdowns.
But the Memphis offense will do a wee bit more as it puts a massive
number up on the board to make a statement for the College Football
Playoff committee.
Pick: Memphis 58, East Carolina 31

Temple (5-6) at Tulsa (2-9)
Line: Owls -3 / 59
TV: 3:00am, ESPNews
It’s bowl getting time.
Tulsa might want to try ending its season on a positive note –
especially at home – after losing four straight and eight of its last
nine, but it has to deal with a Temple team that wants to keep playing
more college football.
The Owls rallied late with a few wins before getting housed by
UCF, and now it all comes down to this. Win, go bowling. Don’t,
and that’s it.
Temple can’t run the ball, it turns the ball over too often, and
it’s way too inconsistent, but Tulsa can’t stop the run, can’t stop
the pass, and it’s rarely able to come up with anything to turn the
tides of games.
Temple might need this game, but it’ll lose the turnover battle,
will struggle against the Golden Hurricane ground game, and will be
left out of the bowl fun against an equally motivated team that won’t
whiff in the home finale.
Pick: Tulsa 30, Temple 27

UConn (3-8) at Cincinnati (3-8)
Line: Bearcats -5.5 / 59
TV: 11:00am, ESPNews
It’s been a massively disappointing season for both teams, but
the winner can at least go in on a bit of a high note.
At least that’s what it’ll tell itself.
Cincinnati has lost two straight including getting bombed on by East
Carolina. The defense has been a stunning disaster, the offense hasn’t
been clutch enough, and it’s going to take a massive rebuilding job
for Luke Fickell to get this thing going.
The Bearcat O line has been solid, but the passing attack isn’t
doing anything to take advantage of the time. The defense isn’t
getting anything from its line, either, and that’s going to be an
issue against a UConn passing attack that can at least keep things
moving.
David Pindell might not be a big-time bomber of a quarterback,
but he’ll look and play like one this week in a shootout. Cincinnati
will throw well, but the UConn offense will be just a wee bit better
in a stunning road performance.
Pick: UConn 34, Cincinnati 30

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