Week 5 in the AAC finds the University of Memphis (3-1, 1-0) and South Florida (2-2, 1-0) at 1-0 in conference play and are the only two teams to play conference ball so far. This week, a few more teams get into the mix of conference play. On Thursday night, Temple (2-2,0-0) will travel to Tulsa (2-2, 0-0), South Florida goes to Navy (1-2, 0-1), East Carolina (1-3, 0-0) is at Rice (2-2, 0-0), Charlotte (1-3, 0-0) is at SMU (2-2, 0-0), and UAB (1-3, 0-0) heads to Tulane (3-1, 0-0). Other games will see Boise at Memphis, and Abilene Christian at North Texas (1-2, 0-0).
The Temple vs. Tulsa game will be played under the lights to a national audience tomorrow night on ESPN. Each team will be looking to stay above .500 keeping their hopes for a bowl game and winning their AAC opener. For Temple, their focus will be a defense that allows nearly 30 points per game with an offense that scores just under 20 per game. In particular, a defense that is giving up 195 yards a game on the ground. That will have to be shored up against a Tulsa team that averages 170.5 yards per game. A run game that does it by committee with no player averaging more than 61 yards per game. The last time these two met was at Lincoln Financial Field on 10/20/22. In that game, Temple went up 10 but Tulsa won the game 27-16. In seven total meetings between the schools, Tulsa holds a 4-3 advantage.
USF comes off a big win over an FBS opponent in their 42-29 rout of Rice. Quarterback Byrum, Brown was 22-29 for 435 yards, two touchdown passes, and was sacked three times. He would also add 99 yards on 14 carries. USF will need all that when they travel to Annapolis to play Navy and their run-heavy offense that gets 223.3 yards per game. The Navy offense has a hard time scoring totaling just 51 points total this year. USF played their best game in quite some time but has shown too many times they are a letdown team. They tend to play down to the competition and still show a tendency to let leads and control slip away from them. If they fall under that spell, Navy will run on them all game long and steal the win.
The Memphis Tigers began the year 3-0 before running into competition last week in Missouri. They played hard but came up on the short end of this one, 34-27. In the game, QB Seth Henigan and RB Blake Watson continue to shine this year. Henigan finished 31-47 for 318 yards and three touchdowns while Watson ran for 47 yards and added 83 yards receiving and a touchdown. The defense shined as well but ran into a Missouri team that totaled 542 yards, including 201 on the ground. Cody Schrader (14-123), and Nathaniel Peat (15-73) did most of that damage. Through the air, QB Brady Cook was 18-25 for 341 yards, two touchdown passes, and was sacked twice. This is the kind of complete performance Memphis cannot allow as they host Boise State this Saturday. The defense will have to play much tighter in one.
On top of these key games in the AAC, the weekly awards are as follows:
Offensive Player of the Week
Byrum Brown • RFr. • QB • South Florida for his performance against Rice.
Defensive Player of the Week
Kendarin Ray • Sr. • S • Tulsa for his team-high 10 tackles, including a big fourth-and-one tackle, and his interception late to seal the win over Northern Illinois.
Special Team Player of the Week
Grant Gonya • Sr. • P • Charlotte who averaged 48.5 yards on six punts in his team’s 22-7 loss at #25 Florida. He had two punts of at least 50 yards and one of 60.
Next week, we keep looking at the happenings in the AAC.
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