Week 3 is a big week for the AAC, with three huge non-conference battles. Two games involve non-ranked AAC teams facing top 25 teams and the third involves the conference’s only ranked team facing their toughest non-conference opponent at home, maybe ever.
They have a big opportunity to make a statement and for the conference to inch closer to validating “Power 6” and separating themselves from the Mountain West and the rest of the other conferences.
#17 UCF vs Stanford
Stanford would have been the first ranked non-conference opponent to ever come to Spectrum Stadium, but a loss to USC derailed those plans. Still, Stanford is as consistent as they come, having won at least 8 games each of the past 10 years and 10 or more games in 6 of David Shaw’s 8 seasons as head coach.
UCF has been largely untested through two wins against Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic and now face their first true test of the season. While the Knights haven’t been tested, Stanford certainly has. In addition to the aforementioned loss to USC, they beat defending Big Ten West Champs, Northwestern, in week 1.
Despite cruising to a 2-0 start, UCF has some QB questions. Brandon Wimbush, a transfer from Notre Dame, has started both games, completing just under 50% of his passes for 168 yards and 2 TDs. Freshman Dillon Gabriel is a rising star, he has thrown for 372 yards on 16 completions and 5 TDs (no interceptions) and also has one rushing touchdown. And Darriel Mack Jr, who was in the mix to start before getting hurt before the season is now healthy and will be in the mix as well. The big story will be how coach Josh Heupel utilizes his QBs.
UCF will win if they continue to control the game with their pace, and their style. RBs Bentavious Thompson and Greg McCrae have combined for 304 yards on the ground. The QBs have yet to throw an interception and as a team UCF has zero turnovers. If they can continue with these trends, they should be able to hang on against a tough, defensive-minded team.
Houston vs #20 Washington State (Friday)
Houston is 1-1 with a 49-31 loss week 1 to Oklahoma and a 37-17 win over Prairie View last week. Washington State is 2-0 and has cruised, beating New Mexico State and Northern Colorado.
Wazzou QB Anthony Gordon seems to be the next in line of great Mike Leach QBs. Gordon has completed 60-74 passes and has 9 TDs and 1 INT.
D’Eriq King, after combining for 50 TDs in 2018, has gotten off to a slow start. He has thrown for 306 yards and 3 TDs and run for 3 TDs (Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts did that in week 1 vs Houston).
The key to the game for Houston is defense. They must contain Gordon and get stops. Dana Holgorsen-coached teams are used to playing in shootouts, but that won’t benefit Houston. They need to keep the score and control the clock.
Holgorsen got his coaching start by working for Mike Leach at Texas Tech together.
Temple vs #21 Maryland
The Terps have scored a stupid amount of points in their first two games, compiling 142 points en route to a surprising 2-0 start, that included a win over Syracuse last week.
Temple was off last week, which is a good thing because QB Anthony Russo came into the season a bit banged up. He did throw 409 yards and 4 TDs in the Owls week 1 win against Bucknell.
The goal is simple for Temple - hold Maryland under 60 points for the first time this season. The goal is simple, that doesn’t mean the execution will be.
Tulsa vs Oklahoma State
One week after Tulsa ran for -73 yards against Michigan State, they gained 261 yards on the ground in a road win against San Jose State.
Tulsa has lost 6 in a row to Oklahoma State and the Cowboys have been impressive on both sides of the ball through two weeks.
First AAC game of 2019
Navy vs East Carolina
Navy was idle in week 2, after a 45-7 win week 1 against Holy Cross. We don’t know what this team is yet, after a disappointing 2018 season but this will be a decent test. Navy ran for 428 yards in that week 1 game, and that’s how they win games.
East Carolina beat Gardner-Webb 48-9, after losing to NC State 34-6 in week 1. Pirates need QB Holton Ahlers to step up and avoid turnovers. His ability to run will be a factor for ECU.
Cincinnati vs Miami Ohio
Everything you need to know about the 124th Battle for the Victory Bell can be found here.
Memphis @ South Alabama
Memphis should continue to roll. The big news here is RB Patrick Taylor Jr is unlikely to play and could miss several weeks. Tigers can win this one without him and their next big challenge is not until 10/12 at Temple.
SMU vs Texas State
SMU is 2-0 and has looked very good against strong Group of Five contenders (Arkansas State in Sun Belt and North Texas in CUSA).
USF vs South Carolina State
USF has lost 8 straight games dating back to 2018 and Charlie Strong’s team SHOULD finally pick up a win.
Tulane vs Missouri State
Tulane played as well as they could have at Auburn last week. They will get back to winning and continue refining their new offense in a tune up game this week. They host Houston in week 4 in what will be a major statement opportunity.