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Around The American: Week 3 Football Recap

An early conference showdown keeps Houston on track for big things at the end of the season.

NCAA Football: Houston at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Here is our weekly roundup of results from the other 11 teams in The American, in approximate order of importance.

Houston 40, Cincinnati 16

Thursday night brought one of the most pivotal conference games of the season in The American. Houston struggled for a long time to put points on the board, despite dominating the game statistically. Cincinnati hit one deep shot for a touchdown, then hit a flea-flicker to set up the go-ahead score in the first play of the fourth quarter. It was 16-12 Bearcats and the upset alert was on.

Houston responded with two nearly flawless touchdown drives to finally take control of the game, then added pick-sixes on consecutive Cincinnati plays to pad out the final score. Really, though, it was what they deserved after outgaining the Bearcats by 199 yards and limiting them to 30 yards rushing.

One thing to keep an eye on as the season progresses - Greg Ward, Jr. is a very, very small quarterback (5’11”, 185 lbs.) and he carried the ball 26 times on Thursday night, in addition to being sacked three times. I’m sure Tom Herman will do something to manage his workload, but someone that size can’t get hit that often without losing some effectiveness.

Navy 21, Tulane 14

In a game straight out of about 1948, the Midshipmen scored the winning touchdown and two-point conversion with around three minutes left to finally put away the Green Wave. The teams, both primarily using the triple option, combined for 102 rushing attempts and threw only 24 times in a game that ended in a mere two hours, 57 minutes.

Quarterback Will Worth ran for 111 yards and the game-deciding score. Toneo Gulley added 80 yards rushing on only seven carries. Dontrell Hilliard ran for 97 yards for Tulane, including a 36-yard touchdown that gave the Green Wave a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter.

Memphis 43, Kansas 7

Following a week off, the Tigers got back into action by demolishing one of the Power 5’s weakest teams. Riley Ferguson threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns, including an 84-yard scoring strike to Anthony Miller that got Memphis started early in the first quarter. Miller also ran for 56 yards and Jake Elliott kicked three field goals. Kanas helped out a lot by committing six turnovers.

However, the real highlight of this game and maybe the entire history of Memphis football was when linebacker Jackson Dillon, who missed the game while recovering from offseason knee surgeries, stuck in a dip on the sideline late in the third quarter.

Maryland 30, UCF 24 (2OT)

With Justin Holman injured, UCF turned to true freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton, a 5’11”, 170 pound true freshman from Hawaii. On the one hand, he clearly gave the offense a spark, completing 21 of 36 passes for 260 yards and two TDs. And if Scott Frost is going through a potential Year Zero, why not play all the new kids and blood them for later? On the other hand, Milton fumbled six times, losing three, and also threw an interception.

The critical play was Milton’s last fumble, which happened on the Maryland 2-yard line in the second overtime period and killed the Knights’ last offensive possession. Two plays later, another true freshman won the game for the Terrapins as Tyrrell Pigrome, in for injured starter Perry Hills, ran 24 yards for a touchdown.

UConn 13, Virginia 10

It appears the Huskies are going to play a whole bunch of very close, very stupid football games. This week they knocked off the Cavaliers with a fourth-quarter comeback and a Bobby Puyol 43-yard field goal with 1:33 to play. Virginia moved back downfield, though, and reached the UConn 3-yard line with time for only one play. Out came freshman walk-on kicker Alex Furbank, playing in his first-ever football game, for a 20-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Except... he missed.

(Side note: I’d like it if TV broadcasts added sound effects to disastrous plays. Imagine this going off as Furbank sliced this kick.)

It was a very unfair ask of Bronco Mendenhall. First Virginia tried to win the game with a quarterback draw when they had no timeouts left. So Furbank had to come out with the clock running and hurriedly set up for the kick from the left hashmark at a tight angle. It never had a chance. The only thing more pathetic than the kick was UConn fans celebrating like this was some karmic retribution for what happened the week before. Uhhh, that’s not how karma works, guys.

South Carolina 20, East Carolina 15

A week after knocking off NC State, the Pirates gave another regional Power 5 team a real scare. East Carolina should have won the game, point blank. They outgained the Gamecocks 519-312, ran 40 more plays, and Philip Nelson completed 44 of 58 passes for 400 yards. Zay Jones had an incredible 22 catches (one off the all-time FBS record). But they turned the ball over four times, missed a very short field goal, and showed an extreme reluctance to take their chances to win the game. A very SAWFT performance from ECU, who gets another crack at a Power 5 opponent next week when they take on Virginia Tech. I bring this up to once again remind you that Virginia Tech actually signed a 10-year home-and-home series with East Carolina. I know, right??

Penn State 34, Temple 27

Remember last year, when Christian Hackenberg was sacked about 80 times and Temple scored the rare upset rout? That didn’t happen this year. In fact, the Nittany Lions allowed no sacks of Trace McSorley and kept the Owls at arm’s length for the entire game. The closest Temple got was when Jahad Thomas, back in the starting lineup, punched one in from two yards out to pull the Owls to within 27-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter. But two plays later Saquon Barkley broke off a 55-yard TD run to put the lead back to 10.

Temple ran for only 38 yards and committed 13 penalties. However, their fans took home a W with their response to Penn State’s absurd tribute to child rape ignoring guy Joe Paterno.

SMU 29, Liberty 14

SMU continues to have a very hard time turning offensive production into points on the scoreboard. They racked up 495 yards from scrimmage against the FCS Flames, but continue to bog down in the red zone. Liberty was in this game all the way thanks to SMU’s struggles. They actually got the ball back with under a minute to go, trailing 22-14. But Jordan Wyatt’s pick-six finally sealed the deal for the Mustangs. Braeden West ran for 220 yards and two scores for SMU, who have an intriguing matchup with local rival TCU next week. The Frogs have Oklahoma the following week, so the look-ahead potential is very high.

Tulsa 58, North Carolina A&T 21

The Golden Hurricane just blew A&T’s doors off. Dane Evans threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns, all to Keevan Lucas, and Tulsa ran up a 58-0 lead in the third quarter and coasted home. Lucas (119 yards) and Justin Hobbs (114 yards) each went over the century mark in receiving yards. The Aggies, fresh off a win over FBS Kent State last week, couldn’t make it two FCS over FBS wins in two weeks.