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Ranking AAC games in Week 7: Saturday night shootout looms in Houston

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For a second straight week, two teams from the American Athletic Conference have been forced to postpone or reschedule their game due to the havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Last week Tulane-UCF had to move to November (Nov. 5) due to unsafe conditions in Orlando, and now Navy-ECU — originally scheduled for Thursday night — re-slotted to Nov. 19 in Greenville, N.C., because of extensive flooding.

“Based on the latest information and projections we have received regarding the rising water level and subsequent adverse travel conditions in eastern North Carolina the remainder of the week, we felt [postponing the game] is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” ECU athletic director Jeff Compher said in a statement.

There are just four games on the slate for Week 7 in the AAC — the conference’s lowest amount for one week in over two years.

Regardless, these are four dandies, and all will be played under the lights. Tulsa at No. 13 Houston is the No. 1 game for this particular lineup. Both teams enter with a combined 9-2 record, boast top-25 offenses, and are aiming to start the second half of the season in style.

How the Cougars respond after dropping a shocker to Navy is an intriguing story line in itself; will they return to dominant form or regress?

Here are all four AAC games this week, ranked by watchability:

4. UConn (3-3, 1-2) at South Florida (5-1, 2-0) — Saturday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. ET (CBSSN)

UConn enjoyed a mild upset when it beat Cincinnati at home last week, but leaving Tampa with a win this Saturday would carry the same magnitude as last season’s conquest of Houston. Connecticut handed the Cougars their first (and only) loss in 2015.

Here in Week 7 of the current season, the Huskies will need to do much better than their season average of 19.8 points (dead last in the AAC) if they want to hang around with USF for more than a quarter or two.

3. Memphis (4-1, 1-0) at Tulane (3-2, 0-1) — Friday, Oct. 14, 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Coach Willie Fritz has made an early mark in his first season with Tulane, leading the team to a winning record through the first six weeks. His two losses have come by a total of 11 points against opponents with a 9-2 record, and he has the Green Wave backfield doing heavy damage at 246.6 rushing yards (16th in FBS) per game. It’ll be interesting to see how Tulane matches up with Memphis in Yulman Stadium after getting an extra week to prepare.

2. Temple (3-3, 1-1) at UCF (3-2, 1-0) — Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

This week I ranked UCF No. 5 in the conference’s power rankings and with a win against Temple, the Knights would be in perfect position not only to appear in a bowl game this season after finishing 0-12 in 2015, but to go 8-4 as college football’s easy favorite for most improved team in the country. Scott Frost has done a terrific job in Year 1 after leaving Oregon — we all know what’s happened over there since he’s been gone — and it looks as though he’ll have the program championship-ready sooner than later.

1. Tulsa (4-1, 1-0) at Houston (5-1, 2-1) — Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Over or under 72 points in this one? That’s what the O/U has been set for entering Saturday night’s soon-to-be offensive showdown at TDECU Stadium. Trust me, the fireworks are coming.

After last season’s loss to UConn, Houston came out with a vengeance and unleashed its fury on Navy, winning 52-31 with 555 yards and 27 first downs, a ridiculous third-down conversion sheet (16-of-19) and zero turnovers. Quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. totaled nearly 400 yards of offense with four touchdowns, and the Cougars scored at least 10 points in each quarter.

Houston had no trouble moving the ball versus Tulsa’s defense during last season’s meeting in Oklahoma, racking up 638 yards off 94 plays (6.79 yards per play) in what was a relatively smooth 38-24 win. You can expect much of the same from the UH offense this weekend, but this time the Golden Hurricane, which rank No. 25 nationally in rushing with 230.4 yards per game, will be able to whip up some offensive magic of their own.


Tyler Waddell is an AAC football columnist for Today’s U. For tips or questions, send him an e-mail at tylerwaddell4@gmail.com and give him a follow on Twitter (@Tyler_Waddell).

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