Week 2 Football Preview: American Athletic Conference

Week 2 Previews

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 1 P.M. • ESPN+

MORGAN STATE vs. TULANE
Legion Field (71,594/FieldTurf)
Birmingham, Alabama

THE GAME
Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between Tulane and Morgan State … The game was originally scheduled to be played at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, but was relocated to Birmingham as the New Orleans region recovers from the effects of Hurricane Ida … Tulane is 120-34-4 all-time against non-FBS opponents.

MORGAN STATE
0-1, 0-0 MEAC
Head Coach
Tyrone Wheatley (Michigan ‘08)
3-9, second season

Notes
Morgan State looks for its first win of the season after the Bears fell 31-0 to Towson in the Battle for Greater Baltimore last Saturday … The Bears were on the short end of a 412-142 discrepancy in total yards and a 23-7 margin in first downs … Head coach Tyrone Wheatley, the former Michigan All-America running back and 10- year NFL veteran, is in his second year at Morgan State after serving as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ running backs coach … The Bears did not compete in the 2020 season and went 3-9 in the 2019 campaign … Morgan State was picked fifth in the MEAC preseason poll of head coaches and sports information directors … OL Marvin Atuatasi, DL Merinio Dendoe and LB Devan Hebron were chosen to the MEAC’s preseason team … Hebron had five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the opener against Towson.

TULANE
0-1, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Willie Fritz (Pittsburg State ‘83)
29-34, sixth season at Tulane
183-103, 25th season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Tulane was impressive in defeat to start the 2021 season as the Green Wave dropped a 40-35 decision at No. 2 Oklahoma … The game was originally slated for Yulman Stadium in New Orleans, but was moved in the wake of Hurricane Ida … Tulane held leads of 7-0 and 14-6 against the Sooners, but were undone by Oklahoma’s 23-point second quarter … Tulane outscored the Sooners by a 21-3 count in the second half and had the ball near midfield in the final minutes before the Sooners held on … QB Michael Pratt completed 27 of 44 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown … WR Tyrick James had six catches for 93 yards, while RB Cameron Carroll had two touchdown receptions … The Green Wave had two defensive interceptions.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 3:30 P.M. • ESPN

MURRAY STATE at CINCINNATI
Nippert Stadium (40,000/UBU Speed Series 55-M)
Cincinnati, Ohio

THE GAME
Saturday’s game will be the 125th meeting between Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) in a series that dates to 1888, marking the oldest current nonconference rivalry in college football … Miami leads holds a 59-58-7 advantage in the rivalry, though Cincinnati has won the last 14 contests and would tie the all-time series with a win this season.

MURRAY STATE
1-0, 0-0 OVC
Head Coach
Dean Hood (Ohio Wesleyan ‘86)
6-2, second season at Murray State
61-40, 10th season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Murray State had a relatively easy time in its season-opener as the Racers were 35-0 winners against Mississippi Valley State last  Thursday … Murray State is the first team listed in the ‘receiving votes’ category of this week’s FCS media poll … The Racers had a 464-162 advantage in total yards and a 21-10 cushion in first downs … QB Preston Rice was 10-of-16 for 157 yards and an interception and ran for 81 yards and four touchdowns in the opener … Rice was named the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week … RB Cortezz Jones had a team-high 107 rushing yards with a touchdown … WR LaMartez Brooks had four receptions for 63 yards … The defense is led by CB Marcis Floyd, who was named to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in FCS.

CINCINNATI
1-0, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Luke Fickell (Ohio State ‘97)
36-14, fifth season at Cincinnati
42-21, sixth season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Cincinnati extended some impressive streaks in its 49-14 season-opening win against Miami (Ohio) last Saturday … The Bearcats have won 21 consecutive home games and have not lost at Nippert Stadium since 2017 … The win also marked Cincinnati’s 15th straight  series win against Miami, evening the nation’s oldest nonconference rivalry at 59-59-7 … QB Desmond Ridder was 20-of-25 for 295 yards and four touchdowns to go with a rushing TD against the RedHawks … RB Jerome Ford had 121 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries … CB Ahmad Gardner was an All-America selection on 2020, while he and DE Myjai Sanders are preseason All-America picks in 2021 … The Bearcats’ next two games are road dates at Indiana and Notre Dame.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 3:30 • CBS

AIR FORCE at NAVY
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000/FieldTurf)
Annapolis, Maryland

THE GAME • THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF’S TROPHY
Saturday’s game will be 54th meeting between Navy and Air Force in a series that dates to 1960 … Air Force holds a 31-22 series lead … The home team has won the last eight meetings, including four straight wins for Navy in Annapolis … Navy has won 11 of the last 18 CommanderIn-Chief’s Trophies.

AIR FORCE
1-0, 0-0 Mountain West
Head Coach
Troy Calhoun (Air Force ’89)
102-72, 15th season

Notes
Air Force is off to a 1-0 start after the Falcons scored a 35-14 win against Lafayette last Saturday in Colorado Springs … Air Force was picked third in the Mountain Division in the Mountain West’s preseason poll, trailing Boise State and Wyoming … The Falcons built a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and led 28-7 at halftime against Lafayette on their way to the win … Air Force had two 100-yard rushers as RB Brad Roberts ran for 111 yards on 25 carries, while RB Michah Davis had 101 yards and two touchdowns on only four attempts … Air Force limited Lafayette to 43 rushing yards on 24 attempts … QB Haaziq Daniels rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns last
year and had 433 passing yards with three TDs and three interceptions … The Falcons went 11-2 in 2019 and were 3-3 in the abbreviated 2020 season.

NAVY
0-1, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Ken Niumatalolo (Hawaii ‘89)
101-68, 14th season

Notes
Navy looks to bounce back from a 49-7 setback to Marshall in the season-opener last Saturday … Navy feel behind 28-0 after three quarters before getting on the scoreboard to start the fourth period … Navy finished with 363 rushing yards, but the Midshipmen were undone in part by three turnovers and 47 yards in penalties … FB James Harris II was the leading rusher with 80 yards on 11 carries and was one of six Navy players with at least 22 rushing yards against the Thundering Herd … QB Tai Lavatai got the start behind center, but QB Xavier Arline was the more effective signal-caller against Marshall as he rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries … The Midshipmen had eight players make their first career starts last week against Marshall … Navy will wear a special Marine Corps-themed uniform for Saturday’s game

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 3:30 P.M. • ESPN+

TEMPLE at AKRON
InfoCision Stadium (30,000/ProGrass)
Akron, Ohio

THE GAME
Saturday’s game will be the 22nd meeting between Temple and Akron in a series that dates to 1967 … Temple holds a 14-7 series lead … The schools competed concurrently in the MAC from 2007-11 … Temple has won the last five meetings, including three straight in Akron … The last win for the Zips was a 25-15 decision in 1999.

TEMPLE
0-1, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Rod Carey (Indiana ‘93)
9-12, third season at Temple
61-42, ninth season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Temple spotted Rutgers a 26-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the Owls reeled off back-to-back touchdowns to make it 26-14 in the third quarter before the Scarlet Knights pulled away for a 61-14 victory … The Owls look to snap a six-game slide … QB D’Wan Mathis made his first start in a Temple uniform in the season-opener and was 8-for-24 for 148 yards and an interception … RB Edward Saydee rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries … Temple averaged 18.5 yards per completion against Rutgers … The Owls registered nine tackles for loss against Rutgers as LB Jordan Magee finished with 2.5 TFL … Temple’s roster includes 11 transfers … The Owls also have eight countries represented on their roster, marking the most internationally diverse roster in FBS.

AKRON
0-1, 0-0 MAC
Head Coach
Tom Arth (John Carroll ’03)
1-18, third season at Akron
50-38, ninth season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Akron is looking for its first win of the season after the Zips fell 60-10 at Auburn in Week 1 … The Zips saw Auburn score the first 53 points of the game as the Tigers finished with a 28-12 advantage in first downs and a 613-188 margin in total offense … Akron went 1-5 in a MAC-only schedule last season, with the lone win coming against Bowling Green … Akron has lost 22 of its last 23 games, dating to the 2018 season … The Zips had won the MAC East Division title as recently as 2017 … Akron has 18 starters returning from last year … The top performer against Auburn was QB DJ Irons, who came off the bench to go 13-for-13 for 129 yards and a touchdown against the Tigers … QB Kato Nelson was 9-of-14 for 62 yards in the starting effort.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 6:30 P.M. • ESPN+

BETHUNE-COOKMAN at Central Florida

The Bounce House (44,206/Natural Grass)
Orlando, Florida

THE GAME
Saturday’s game will be the 17th meeting between UCF and Bethune-Cookman in a series that dates to 1981 … The only team that UCF has faced more times than Bethune-Cookman is East Carolina (17), though the schools have met only once since 1995 … The Knights are 11-5 all-time against the Wildcats.

BETHUNE-COOKMAN
0-1, 0-0 SWAC
Head Coach
Terry Sims (Knoxville ’94)
34-22, sixth season

Notes
Bethune-Cookman made its return to the gridiron last week against UTEP after the Wildcats did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic … The game against UCF will be the second straight contest against an FBS opponent … Bethune-Cookman was 7-4 in the 2019 season and went 5-3 in the MEAC … The Wildcats are in their first season as members of the SWAC after 42 years in the MEAC … The Wildcats fell 38-28 to UTEP in their opener last Saturday … The Wildcats trailed 17-14 after three quarters, but the
Miners opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back TDs to put the game away … QB Shannon Patrick, a transfer from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, completed 15 of 22 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries … CB Caleb Sutherland led the defense with 13 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

UCF
1-0, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Gus Malzahn (Henderson State ‘90)
1-0, first season at UCF
78-38, 10th season as collegiate head coach

Notes
UCF made a winner of head coach Gus Malzahn in his debut on the Knights’ sideline as the Knights overcame a 21-0 deficit to win 36-31 … The comeback matched the largest deficit overcome by the Knights in a winning effort as well as Malzahn’s largest come-from- behind win as a head coach … QB Dillon Gabriel threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns completing 25 of 37 passes … RB Isaiah Bowser, a transfer from Northwestern, rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries … WR Jaylon Robinson had six catches for 140 yards and a TD … The defense, which limited Boise State to 20 rushing yards and 263 total yards, was led by DT Kalia Davis, who had six tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss against the Broncos … The Knights gained 573 yards of offense against Boise State

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 6:30 P.M. • CBSS

HOUSTON at RICE
Rice Stadium (47,000/AstroTurf Rootzone 3D3)
Houston, Texas

THE GAME • THE HEB BAYOU BUCKET CLASSIC
Saturday’s game will be the 43rd meeting between Houston and Rice in a series that began exactly 50 years prior to this year’s matchup (Sept. 11, 1971) … Houston holds a 31-11 series lead and has won the last five meetings, including a 45-27 decision in 2018, which was the most recent contest.

HOUSTON
0-1, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Dana Holgorsen (Iowa Wesleyan ‘93)
7-14, third season at Houston
68-55, 11th season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Houston looks to bounce back from a 38-21 setback to Texas Tech in the Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium last Saturday … The Cougars had raced to a 14-0 lead by keeping possession for the first 12:45 of the first quarter, but the Red Raiders closed the game with 31 unanswered points …QB Clayton Tune threw for 172 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted four times as he completed 27 of
38 passes … WR Nathaniel Dell had a team-high seven catches (also a career high) for 80 yards and a touchdown … The Cougars were limited to 53 yards of offense in the second half against Texas Tech … CB/WR Marcus Jones saw action on defense and offense against Texas Tech as he had six tackles to go with two rushing attempts and three receptions.

RICE
0-1, 0-0 Conference USA
Head Coach
Mike Bloomgren (Florida State ‘99)
7-24, fourth season

Notes
Rice opened its season with a 38-17 loss at Arkansas as the Owls let a 17-7 third-quarter lead get away … The Razorbacks scored the final 31 points against Rice as the Owls had three costly interceptions in the second half … Rice played an abbreviated schedule last season and went 2-3, scoring road wins against Southern Miss and No. 15 Marshall … Rice is looking for its first winning season since the 2014 Owls finished 8-5 … Head coach Mike Bloomgren went 1-20 in his first 21 games against FBS opponents, but has gone 5-4 in Rice’s last nine games … QB Wiley Green completed 12 of 25 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown with three INTs … WR August Pitre III had four receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas … OG Shea Baker is a returning first-team all-conference performer

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 7 P.M. • ESPN+

MEMPHIS at ARKANSAS STATE
Centenial Bank Stadium (30,406/ProGreen)
Jonesboro, Arkansas

THE GAME
Saturday’s game will be the 60th meeting between Memphis and Arkansas State in a series that dates to 1914 … Memphis holds a 30-24-5 series lead and has won the last two meetings, including a 37-24 decision at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium … The Red Wolves have won the last three matchups in Jonesboro.

MEMPHIS
1-0, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Ryan Silverfield (Hamden-Sydney ‘03)
9-4, second season at Memphis

Notes
Memphis takes a three-game winning streak into its first road contest of the season as the Tigers earned a 42-17 victory against Nicholls last Saturday … The win extended Memphis’ winning streak at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to 16 games, the fifth-longest homefield streak nationally … The Tigers went with a true freshman behind center in the season-opener for the first time as QB Shane Henigan got the start against Nicholls … Henigan completed 19 of 32 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut … The Tigers also got a boost from K Joe Doyle, a transfer from Tennessee who had never attempted a field goal in college, but scored
18 points against Nicholls (5-5 FG, 3-3 PAT) … RB Brandon Thomas rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in his first career start.

ARKANSAS STATE
1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt
Head Coach
Butch Jones (Ferris State ’90)
1-0, first season at Arkansas State
85-54, 12th season as collegiate head coach

Notes
Arkansas State is off to a 1-0 start for the first time since 2018 after the Red Wolves topped Central Arkansas 40-21 last Saturday … Arkansas State was on the short end of a 7-6 halftime score before pulling away in the second half … The Red Wolves went 4-7 in 2020, ending a streak of nine straight winning seasons, but scored a notable road win against Kansas State … WR Corey Rucker was names as the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week after he had nine receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the win against Central Arkansas … Head coach Butch Jones is in his first year in Jonesboro after spending the last three seasons on the staff at Alabama … Jones was formerly the head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11 • 7 P.M. • ESPN+

NORTH TEXAS at SMU
Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000/FieldTurf)
Dallas, Texas

THE GAME
Saturday’s game will be the 40th meeting between SMU and North Texas in a series that dates to 1922 … The Mustangs hold a 33-6-1 series lead and have won the last two meetings, including a 65-35 victory in Denton last season … SMU has won 11 straight home games against North Texas, which has not won in Dallas since 1977.

NORTH TEXAS
1-0, 0-0 Conference USA
Head Coach
Seth Littrell (Oklahoma ’01)
32-31, sixth season

Notes
North Texas won its season-opener in convincing fashion as the Mean Green scored a 44-14 decision against Northwestern State in Denton last Saturday … North Texas went 4-6 last season and fell to Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl … The Mean Green has 19 starters returning from last season … RB DeAndre Torrey, a converted wide receiver, led the way against Northwestern State
as he rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns and finished with 320 all-purpose yards … WR Roderic Burns had six receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown … QB Jace Ruder completed 10 of 21 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions … LB KD Davis led a stout defensive effort with 14 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles for loss … North Texas won two of its last three
road games in 2020.

SMU
1-0, 0-0 American
Head Coach
Sonny Dykes (Texas Tech ‘93)
23-14, fourth season at SMU
64-59, 11th season as collegiate head coach

Notes
SMU looked to be in midseason form out of the chute in 2021 as the Mustangs rolled to a 56-9 win against Abilene Christian in the season-opener at Ford Stadium … QB Tanner Mordecai, a transfer from Oklahoma, was named as the Opening Day starter and he responded by throwing for 317 yards and a conference-record-tying seven touchdowns … Mordecai, The American’s Offensive
Player of the Week, completed 24 of 30 passes and was not intercepted in his SMU debut … WR Danny Gray, TE Grant Calcaterra and TE Nolan Matthews had two touchdown receptions each … The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 11 home games … SMU, which started the 2019 and 2020 seasons with 5-0 records, has not been 5-0 in three consecutive years since 1981-83.