Out of all of the programs in the American Conference that played in Week One I think there are some clear winners and losers, regardless of their matchup outcomes. Based on how well or not well the eleven teams played (Since Houston’s matchup against UT San Antonio was postponed due to Hurricane Harvey) we will be dishing out the week’s main winners and losers.
WINNER: Navy Midshipmen
Many people covering the American Conference have more or less written Navy (pictured) off for the 2017 season but not me. Navy still has talent and they showed that in spades against Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls. FAU had an intriguing recruiting class highlighted by De’Andre Johnson, one of the stars the Netflix show Last Chance U.
At the end of the day, the Midshipmen straight dominated gaining 200 more yards on offense than the Owls and nearly double the possession time. Navy quarterback Zach Abbey (above) led the way with 110 yards passing including one TD as well as 235 rushing yards on 32 carries for another two scores. Navy will host the Tulane Green Wave in Week Two, another game that the Midshipmen should win.
LOSER: Memphis Tigers
Memphis is one of those teams that is consistently just good. Never great, not really terrible too often, simply good. This year is a bit out of the ordinary where some people think Memphis has a shot at the AAC title. It was not too long ago when the Tigers had Paxton Lynch under center, not with the Denver Broncos but seems Memphis now has emphasized the running game.
The Tigers opened up against the Warhawks of Louisiana Monroe as 28 point favorites and although Memphis did win the matchup by a score of 37-29, their defense and passing game were both lackluster. The Warhawks are a team that the Tigers should have steamrolled and it seems that Memphis did not get that memo, well except for running backs Darrell Henderson (above) and Patrick Taylor Jr. Henderson scampered 169 yards with 2 TDs on only 12 carries while Taylor ran for another 131 yards and a score on 15 carries. Memphis will travel to Central Florida next week in a HUGE AAC matchup.
WINNER: Central Florida Knights
Similar to Memphis, the UCF Knights are one of those teams whose name is getting tossed around as AAC title contenders. And if the Knights’ performance against the Florida International Golden Panthers means anything, it means that those whispers about being potential AAC Champions are entirely warranted. Not let us be honest, FIU is not very good but a convincing win is a convincing win nonetheless. The Knights were 18 point favorites but came away with a 44 point blowout win by a score of 61-17.
At one point in the game, the UCF Knights scored 41 UNANSWERED points. The Knights offense was just rolling all game behind the arm of quarterback McKenzie Milton (above) that threw for 360 yards and 4 TDs. Next week the Knights will play host to the Memphis Tigers in a matchup that will have a lot of weight for the AAC standings.
LOSER: UConn Huskies
Now the UConn Huskies are not a contender for the American Conference but they did have any easy matchup in Week One. An easy matchup perhaps to get their team off to a good start and get going into the 2017 season.
UConn came away with a 7 point win against the Holy Cross Crusaders after being 23 point favorites. The Huskies played some terrible defense at some points in this one and even found themselves down to the Crusaders 20-7 at halftime. UConn would battle back however, thanks in part to running back Nate Hopkins (above) who rushed for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 carries. Next week the Huskies will face off against the AAC favorites, the University of South Florida Bulls.
Week Two will give us some quality AAC vs AAC football and after next week we should have our first view of which teams have a legitimate shot at making a run for the American Conference Championship.
Cover Photo via Twitter
Article Photos via Capital Gazette, Zimbio, USA Today, Connecticut Post