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CFB Week 9 Conference Notes: American Athletic Conference

This Week in the American Athletic Conference

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28

South Florida at East Carolina *
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Series: East Carolina leads, 9-2
Last Meeting: Oct. 10, 2020 (East Carolina, 44-24)

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29

Navy at Tulsa *
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Series: Navy leads, 6-2
Last Meeting: Dec. 5, 2020 (Tulsa, 19-6)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30

UCF at Temple *
Time: Noon
Series: UCF leads, 6-2
Last Meeting: Nov. 14, 2020 (UCF, 38-13)

Cincinnati at Tulane *
Time: Noon
Series: Tulane leads, 11-7
Last Meeting: Oct. 6, 2018 (Cincinnati, 37-21)

SMU at Houston *
Time: 7 p.m.
Series: Houston leads, 21-13-1
Last Meeting: Oct. 24, 2019 (SMU, 34-31)

OPEN WEEK
Memphis
Next Game: Nov. 6 vs. SMU

THE AMERICAN TODAY

The American Athletic Conference will enter Week 9 as one of only two FBS conferences with two unbeaten teams (along with the Big Ten) as Cincinnati and SMU both improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play. Houston, meanwhile, sits atop the league standings after the Cougars registered their sixth consecutive victory to get to 4-0 in The American.

No. 2 Cincinnati found itself in a tough battle at Navy, where the Midshipmen had won 21 of their 25 American Athletic Conference home games, but the Bearcats used a big third quarter to pull away for a 27-20 win and remain unbeaten. The Bearcats came up with a key play at the end of the first half when LB Deshawn Pace blocked Navy’s attempt for the go-ahead field goal and returned it 28 yards to set up their own 52-yard field goal as time expired. RB Jerome Ford added a 43-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, while QB Desmond Ridder had two touchdown passes for Cincinnati, which has won its last nine conference games.

Navy got two rushing touchdowns from QB Tai Lavatai, and the Midshipmen finished with a 308-271 advantage in total yards and a 22-14 margin in first downs.

SMU exploded for a 55-26 win against Tulane Thursday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. The Mustangs reeled off 612 yards of offense as QB Tanner Mordecai threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 29 TD passes in seven games. WR Danny Gray had eight catches for 140 yards, while RB Tre Siggers had two of the Mustangs’ four touchdown runs as part of an 81-yard day. QB Michael Pratt passed for 234 yards and three touchdowns for Tulane, but the Green Wave suffered its fifth straight loss.

Houston saw its game against East Carolina delayed by more than five hours due to inclement weather, but the Cougars withstood the Pirates’ late comeback to take a 31-24 overtime win at TDECU Stadium. RB Alton McCaskill’s 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of overtime stood up as the game-winner as LB Donavan Mutin forced a fumble on East Carolina’s second play of the extra period. The Cougar defense had three fumble recoveries, including the clincher in overtime, and held the Pirates to 82 rushing yards and 1-of-11 efficiency on third down.

UCF evened its conference record with an impressive defensive performance as the Knights were 24-7 winners against Memphis at the Bounce House Friday. Neither team was able to pass 300 yards of offense, but UCF finished with six sacks and forced four turnovers. DE Big Kat Bryant led the way with two sacks and three tackles for loss, while RB Isaiah Bowser paced the offense with 111 rushing yards on 26 carries.

South Florida turned in its best performance of the season as the Bulls set a program record with 421 rushing yards in a 34-14 win against Temple at Raymond James Stadium. RB Jaren Mangham pounded out 152 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, while RB Kelley Joiner Jr. added 126 yards and a TD on 14 attempts. The Bulls finished with a season-high 526 yards of offense, had a 34-8 advantage in first downs and held possession for 44:35.

Elite Company
SMU (7-0) and Cincinnati (7-0) are among the nine undefeated teams nationally through Week 8 of the 2021 season. Oklahoma and UTSA are both 8-0, while Wake Forest, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State and San Diego State are the other 7-0 teams.

Us And Them
The American and the Big Ten are the only two FBS conferences with more than one unbeaten team.

Defend This House
Cincinnati enters Week 9 with the second-longest home field winning streak nationally as the Bearcats have won 24 straight at Nippert Stadium, trailing only Clemson (31).
Active Home Winning Streaks
31 Clemson
24 Cincinnati
16 Oregon

High Point
Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll, marking the highest ranking by an American Athletic Conference team in the league’s nine-year history.
Highest AP Ranks by American Athletic Conference Teams
No. 2 Cincinnati Oct. 17-24, 2021
No. 3 Cincinnati Oct. 10, 2021
No. 5 Cincinnati Oct. 3, 2021
No. 6 Houston Sept. 6-Oct. 2, 2016
UCF Final 2017
Cincinnati Nov. 1, Dec. 13-20, 2020

On A Roll
Cincinnati is 38-6 since the start of the 2018 season. SMU is 24-6 since the start of the 2019 campaign.

Bullies
Cincinnati has won 33 consecutive games against unranked teams.

Consistency
Cincinnati has been ranked in 35 consecutive national polls, dating to the rankings of Oct. 6, 2019.

Variety Show
Nine of the 11 American Athletic Conference schools have been ranked in the top 25 since the start of the 2018 season.

Been Here Before
SMU is off to a 7-0 start for the second time in three seasons. The Mustangs won their first eight games in 2019.

Quarterly Report
Houston has outscored its opponents by a 90-17 margin in the first quarter.

Rejection Letters
East Carolina CB Ja’Quan McMillian enters Week 9 as the NCAA FBS leader in passes defended, leading a group of three American Athletic Conference players among the
top five national leaders.
2021 NCAA FBS Leaders – Passes Defended Per Game
1. Ja’Quan McMillian, East Carolina 2.3
2. Cortez Davis, Hawaii 1.8
3. Coby Bryant, Cincinnati 1.6
Trenton Thompson, San Diego State 1.6
t-5. Travon Fuller, Tulsa 1.4

Point Production
SMU QB Tanner Mordecai has 29 touchdown passes through seven games. Mordecai has 13 more touchdown passes as any other American Athletic Conference player and is tied with Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe for the national lead.

Ford’s Theater
Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford is tied for the national lead with 13 rushing touchdowns. Ford is tied with Marshall’s Rasheen Ali and Louisville’s Malik Cunningham.

Streaking
Houston has won six games in a row for the first time since an eight-game winning streak that spanned the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Austin III:16
Memphis WR Calvin Austin III has eight touchdown receptions in 2021, putting him fifth among NCAA FBS players. Austin has had touchdown receptions of 11, 21, 25, 30, 50, 55, 60 and 75 yards this season. He also has scored on a 94-yard punt return and a 69-yard run.

Keeping Up With Jones
Houston CB Marcus Jones, who was the 2020 American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year, is one of only two NCAA FBS players with two touchdowns on punt returns in 2021 (Jayden Reed of Michigan State).

Active Claims
UCF QB Dillon Gabriel is the NCAA active career leader in passing yards and total offense per game. Gabriel has averaged 309.1 passing yards and 323.4 yards of total offense per game.

Rejection
Cincinnati leads the nation in pass efficiency defense (89.87).

Get The Punt Team Ready
Houston is the national leader in third down defense. Opponents have converted only 23.4% of third downs against the Cougars.

Draft Class
The American Athletic Conference saw 19 players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, the most in conference history. Former Tulsa LB Zaven Collins (16th to Arizona) and
former Houston DE Payton Turner (28th to New Orleans) were both first-round selections.

TALKING POINTS

UCF
4-3, 2-2 American
@UCF_Football
Last: Beat Memphis, 24-7
Next: Oct. 30 at Temple (ESPN+)
American Ranks
Total Offense………………………….420.0 …………………..5th
Total Defense…………………………. 371.0 …………………..5th
Scoring Offense ………………………..32.7 …………………..3rd
Scoring Defense ………………………28.6 …………………..5th
• UCF forced four turnovers, had six sacks and held Memphis to 292 yards of offense in Friday’s win against the Tigers.
• RB Isaiah Bowser rushed for 111 yards on 26 carries against Memphis as the Knights had 215 rushing yards as a team.
• DE Big Kat Bryant had 2.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles for loss to lead the Knight defense.
• UCF is 4-0 at home and 0-3 away from the Bounce House in 2021.
• UCF finished with 295 yards of offense, marking the first time since 2016 that the Knights have gone two games without surpassing 300 total yards.

CINCINNATI
6-0, 2-0 American
@BearcatsFB
Last: Beat UCF, 56-21
Next: Oct. 23 at Navy (ESPN2)
American Ranks
Total Offense………………………….444.8 …………………..4th
Total Defense………………………… 294.5 …………………. 2nd
Scoring Offense ………………………. 43.5 ……………………1st
Scoring Defense ………………………. 13.7 ……………………1st
• QB Desmond Ridder was 18-for-30 for 176 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 2 Cincinnati to the win at Navy.
• RB Jerome Ford rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against the Midshipmen. Ford and Ridder were Cincinnati’s only two players to carry the ball against Navy.
• Cincinnati has won its last 24 home games and has the second-longest homefield winning streak nationally (Clemson, 31).
• Cincinnati is 38-5 since the start of the 2018 season. The Bearcats are 20-1 all-time as a top-10 team.
• The Bearcats have won 10 straight games against American Athletic Conference opponents and are 17-1 against conference opponents since the start of the 2019 season.

EAST CAROLINA
3-4, 1-2 American
@ECUPiratesFB
Last: Lost at Houston, 31-24 (ot)
Next: Oct. 28 vs. South Florida (ESPN)
American Ranks
Total Offense……………………………418.7 …………………..6th
Total Defense………………………….424.4 …………………..9th
Scoring Offense ………………………..28.7 ………………….. 7th
Scoring Defense ……………………… 28.4 …………………..4th
• QB Holton Ahlers went 23-for-37 for 278 yards and two touchdowns, but the Pirates fell in overtime at Houston.
• East Carolina was limited to 82 rushing yards against the Cougars.
• WR Tyler Snead had seven receptions for 114 yards against Houston, moving into fifth place on East Carolina’s career receiving chart (1,995 yards).
• East Carolina saw a streak of eight consecutive games with at least one interception snapped. The Pirates have forced at least one turnover in 15 consecutive games.
• The Pirates held Houston to 87 rushing yards, the fewest by an East Carolina opponent this season.

HOUSTON
6-1, 4-0 American
@UHCougarFB
Last: Beat East Carolina, 31-24 (ot)
Next: Oct. 30 vs. SMU (ESPN2)
American Ranks
Total Offense…………………………..357.0 …………………..8th
Total Defense………………………….276.3 ……………………1st
Scoring Offense ……………………….36.3 …………………..3rd
Scoring Defense ………………………..17.3 …………………. 2nd
• RB Alton McCaskill’s 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of overtime stood up as the game-winner as the Cougar defense stopped East Carolina.
• The Cougars have won six straight games for the first time since an eight-game winning streak that spanned the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
• Houston has outscored its opponents by a 90-17 margin in the first quarter this season.
• CB Marcus Jones had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against East Carolina. Jones has three touchdowns on returns this season (two punt returns, one kickoff return).
• Jones also matched his career high with seven tackles against East Carolina.

MEMPHIS
4-4, 1-3 American
@TigersAthletics
Last: Lost to UCF, 24-7
Next: Nov. 6 at SMU
American Ranks
Total Offense…………………………. 462.9 …………………. 2nd
Total Defense…………………………409.9 …………………..8th
Scoring Offense ………………………. 32.3 …………………..4th
Scoring Defense ………………………29.6 …………………..6th
• QB Peter Parrish went 31-for-48 for 215 yards in his first career start, but was intercepted three times in the loss at UCF.
• Parrish got the start in place of QB Seth Henigan, who was a late scratch with a shoulder injury.
• WR Calvin Austin III, who had averaged a league-leading 122.4 yards per game, was limited to 44 yards on seven receptions against UCF.
• Parrish completed passes to 12 different receivers, the most for Memphis in a game since a win against Mercer Sept. 1, 2018.
• The Tigers limited UCF to 295 total yards, marking the second straight game in which Memphis held its opponent below 300 yards.

NAVY
1-5, 1-3 American
@NavyAthletics
Last: Lost at Memphis, 35-17
Next: Oct. 23 vs. Cincinnati (ESPN2)
American Ranks
Total Offense……………………………275.7 ………………….11th
Total Defense………………………….369.7 …………………..3rd
Scoring Offense …………………………17.5 ………………….11th
Scoring Defense ……………………….32.7 ………………….. 7th
• Navy had the advantage in total offense (308- 271), first downs (22-14) and time of possession (39:27-20:33), but it wasn’t enough for the Midshipmen to get past No. 2 Cincinnati.
• QB Tai Lavatai went 11-for-15 for 116 yards against the Bearcats. Lavatai had two rushing touchdowns and 22 rushing yards.
• Navy held Cincinnati to 271 yards of offense, limiting the Bearcats to their fewest yards since Nov. 17, 2019, against Temple.
• CB Jamal Glenn had a team- and career-high 11 tackles to go with an interception and an onside kick recovery against Cincinnati.
• FB Isaac Rusoss was Navy’s rushing leader with 80 yards on 11 carries against Cincinnati.

SOUTH FLORIDA
2-5, 1-2 American
@USFFootball
Last: Beat Temple, 34-14
Next: Oct. 28 at East Carolina (ESPN)
American Ranks
Total Offense…………………………..350.7 …………………..9th
Total Defense………………………… 465.4 …………………10th
Scoring Offense ……………………….23.9 …………………..9th
Scoring Defense ……………………… 32.3 …………………..8th
• South Florida set a program record with 421 rushing yards in the win against Temple.
• The Bulls turned in their third game in program history with at least 400 rushing yards and their first since a 416-yard performance against Memphis Nov. 12, 2016.
• RB Jaren Mangham rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries against the Owls. RB Kelley Joiner Jr. had 126 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
• The win against Temple snapped a 13-game losing streak in American Athletic Conference games for the Bulls.
• The Bulls had possession for 44:35 and had a 34-8 advantage in first downs against Temple.

SMU
7-0, 2-0 American
@SMU_Football
Last: Beat Tulane, 55-26
Next: Oct. 30 at Houston (ESPN2)
American Ranks
Total Offense…………………………..525.4 ……………………1st
Total Defense…………………………396.0 …………………..6th
Scoring Offense ………………………..42.7 ……………………1st
Scoring Defense ……………………….22.7 …………………..3rd
• QB Tanner Mordecai went 30-for-42 for a career-high 427 yards with three touchdowns to lead the Mustangs in the win against Tulane.
• Mordecai improved his season total to 29 touchdown passes, the most of any FBS player this season (tied with Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe).
• WR Danny Gray had eight receptions for 140 yards against the Green Wave.
• SMU is 7-0 for the second time in three seasons. The Mustangs started 8-0 in 2019.
• OL Hayden Howerton tied a program record with by playing his 54th career game. Howerton joined former S Rodney Clemons, who played in 54 games from 2017-21.

TEMPLE
3-4, 1-2 American
@Temple_FB
Last: Lost at South Florida, 34-14
Next: Oct. 30 vs. UCF (ESPN+)
American Ranks
Total Offense…………………………..327.0 …………………10th
Total Defense…………………………. 379.1 …………………..5th
Scoring Offense ………………………. 22.0 …………………10th
Scoring Defense ………………………33.9 …………………10th
• Temple held the ball for only 15:25 and was limited to eight first downs and 217 yards in the loss at South Florida.
• WR Randle Jones accounted for nearly half of Temple’s offensive yards as he had 100 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
• QB D’Wan Mathis was 12-of-21 for 183 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions against the Bulls.
• The Owls ran only 34 offensive plays against South Florida.
• The Owls have gone 2-1 at Lincoln Financial Field and are 1-3 on the road this season. The Knights host UCF Saturday

TULANE
1-6, 0-3 American
@GreenWaveFB
Last: Lost at SMU, 55-26
Next: Oct. 30 vs. Cincinnati (ESPN2)
American Ranks
Total Offense………………………….402.9 ………………….. 7th
Total Defense…………………………493.9 …………………10th
Scoring Offense ………………………..31.9 …………………..5th
Scoring Defense ……………………… 42.3 ………………….11th
• QB Michael Pratt threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns, but the Green Wave was unable to keep pace with SMU.
• WR Shae Wyatt had four receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns against the Mustangs.
• RB Tyjae Spears had 14 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown against SMU. RB Cameron Carroll had 16 rushes for 80 yards.
• LB Nick Anderson, who had missed three games due to an ankle injury, returned to the lineup against SMU and had a game-high 11 tackles.
• Tulane has lost five straight games for the first time since the 2016 season.

TULSA
3-4, 2-1 American
@TulsaFootball
Last: Won at South Florida, 32-31
Next: Oct. 29 vs. Navy
American Ranks
Total Offense………………………….. 457.3 …………………..3rd
Total Defense…………………………409.4 ………………….. 7th
Scoring Offense ………………………..25.4 …………………..8th
Scoring Defense ……………………… 32.4 ………………….. 7th
• RB Shamari Brooks rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown, while RB Deneric Prince had 110 yards and a TD to lead the Golden Hurricane past South Florida.
• Tulsa held the lead against South Florida for 47 seconds. The Golden Hurriane overcame a 24-10 deficit and scored the game’s final 12 points.
• Tulsa has won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
• QB Davis Brin went 22-for-39 for 266 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions.
• Tulsa finished with 535 yards of total offense against the Bulls.

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