Week Two of the American Athletic Conference brought us some of the best matchups against “Power Five” conference teams. Now if you are a listener to The College Credit Hour, then you know how I feel about the nonsensical idea of “Power Five” conferences. Simply put… the idea of a “Power Conference” is as mythical as a unicorn. People always swear that they exist, but no one has ever actually seen one.
There are only power teams; there has never been a “Power Conference”. However, since this mythical idea of a “Power 5” conference seems to be the focal point of FBS football today, then we should at least keep score. I mean, somebody needs to. Currently the ACC is 4-3 against “Power 5” conference schools. What’s more interesting is who is beating whom and why. Let’s review the AAC schedule against “Power 5” conference schools in 2018 thus far.
Tulane finds a way to lose to Wake Forest 23-17 in week one. You shouldn’t lose to a true freshman QB in game one. You shouldn’t lose to a true freshman QB in game one of your home opener. You shouldn’t lose to a Wake Forrest true freshman QB in game one of your home opener if you have a lead entering the 4th quarter. Somehow Willie Fritz watched his Green Wave defense to do just that allowing 378 yards passing, another 64 yards rushing, and two touchdowns from Demon Deacon’s true freshman QB Sam Hartman. Make no mistake, this game was more about the shortcomings of Willie Fritz’s game/clock management, than the skill set of Demon Deacon’s QB Hartman.
SMU is blown out by TCU in week two 42-12. I’m not sure what you’d expect from first year SMU head coach Sonny Dykes, but a 30 point blowout isn’t why they chose him to replace Chad Morris. With talent in many positions such as RB Xavier Jones, DB Jordan Wyatt, WR James Proche, & ATH/WR Braeden West, all of whom come into the season as award candidates, there is little room to blame a lack of talent for the underwhelming 0-2 beginning to the 2018 season. We’ll see how big of a lasso Sonny Dykes will be given by Mustang fans should this losing streak continue until the October 13th bye week.
Tulsa gives Texas a run for their money but falls 28-21 in week two. Tulsa didn’t have any business being in this game. Good thing no one informed Tom Herman about that. Outside of redshirt senior WR Justin Hobbs, head coach Phil Montgomery has a relatively young offense lead by sophomore QB Skipper Luke. However, that didn’t stop the Hurricane from outscoring the upperclassmen Longhorns 14-7 in the 4th quarter to make this game an uncomfortable win for Herman and staff. If not for two long sustained 10+ play drives totaling over 11 minutes which were strung together in the 4th quarter by Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, I’m not sure the Texas defense could have held off Tulsa’s late charge for victory.
Cincinnati spoils Chip Kelly’s home opener at UCLA 26-17. This is a tale of two programs heading in different directions. Luke Fickle, in his second year at Cincinnati, is taking the Bearcats into new territory under his tenure. Chip Kelly, on the other hand, finds himself losing to a Cincinnati team that managed only 4 wins last year. That would be Chip’s first non “Power 5” loss since the first game of his first year as a college head coach (Boise State). But this game was more about how Luke Fickle is quickly changing the culture in Cincinnati. Redshirt seniors C Garrett Campbell and QB Haden Moore have this offense clicking early, as the Bearcats are cautiously optimistic after opening up the season 2-0.
Houston smashes Arizona 45-18. Coming into this game, many had a question on who the better Heisman candidate is, DT Ed Oliver or QB Khalil Tate. That question may still be unanswered, but we do have an answer to the QB question in Houston. D’Eriq King created a 21-0 first quarter deficit for Arizona which Khalil Tate could not overcome with his magic. Houston alone is now a remarkable 8-2 against “Power 5” teams while in the American Athletic Conference. The trail of destruction includes, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Oklahoma, Louisville (twice), and Arizona (now twice). An additional fun fact is that two of those 8 teams had a Heisman Trophy winner on it!
East Carolina shocks the nation whooping North Carolina 41-19. I have to be honest; I didn’t see this one coming. After the disappointing loss to an FCS program the week prior, the last thing I could imagine was that same team dismantling coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels. Aside from North Carolina’s underwhelming performance in the ACC year in and year out, East Carolina isn’t what I’d call a competitive football program under coach Scottie Montgomery just yet. The question arising out of this game is this: Did we just see the fruition of Scottie Montgomery’s three year term at ECU, or is this a lagging indicator of Larry Fedora’s failed tenure at North Carolina?
USF handles Georgia Tech 49-38. Speed kills. But, when a true freshman like USF’s Terrence Horne literally runs around a senior laden ACC team, all you can say is wow. As I watched from the sidelines of this notable week two matchup, it was immediately evident that Charlie Strong has another squad that will challenge for the American Athletic title. The Yellow Jackets made mental errors that you’d expect from a young USF team, as they continuously begged USF to beat them with their speed in key areas of the field. And that they did, with recent transfer QB Blake Barnett turning in a combine 4 TD effort for the Bulls. However, this game was won on special teams as the sensational Terrence Horne blazed past the Yellow Jackets on back to back kickoff returns in the first half while added a touchdown reception in the second half. This will mark the 6th “Power 5” foe to fall victim to USF in the last 7 attempts.
The American Athletic Conference consistently beats “Power 5” conference teams year in and year out. This year, the American Athletic Conference is 4-3 this so far against “Power 5” teams. Programs like USF and Houston have posted a combined 14-3 against “Power 5”, teams since inception into the AAC, and we haven’t even discussed new AAC juggernauts like UCF or Memphis at this point. I was always told, “If you struggle telling the truth, at least be honest with yourself”. Hopefully, YOU don’t believe this “Power 5” garbage either. Do you?