Central Florida (1-2) at Houston (2-2), tonight at 7pm on ESPN
I'm going to start a new bandwagon for all of those people that missed the chance to join me on the Shane Carden bandwagon before the seasons started. This is the (true sophomore) John O'Korn bandwagon.
O'Korn hasn't been as impressive this season as he was last year, he's already thrown six interceptions, but I am still a believer. Last year he threw 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions - two of those coming at UCF last year. He stands at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds after adding 20 pounds to his frame this off-season.
Maybe last year was just a fluke or maybe O'Korn is the next Carden (6-2, 221) or Blake Bortles (6-5, 232) or the next Teddy Bridgewater (6-2, 214) - okay, now I'm getting a bit carried away. I just wanted to list the entirety of great QB's in AAC history. #AmericanRising
Tonight's match-up will feature some of the better wide receivers in the American conference. Houston has Deontay Greenberry and UCF has J.J. Worton and Breshad Perriman. These two teams have played each other five times since 2005 - both used to be in Conference USA together - with UCF leading the series 4-1.
Since the start of the season - August 30 - UCF has played one game at home and has traveled to Ireland, Missouri and now Houston. UCF gained 398 total yards in their match-up with Houston last year, with 327 of those yards coming from two players that graduated (Storm Johnson and Blake Bortles). In fact, Johnson and Bortles combined to be involved (with a carry or pass) in 58 of their 69 plays last year. While William Stanback is a more than viable replacement for Storm, Bortles is tough to replace. While many predicted a high scoring last year, the final score was 19-14 (6-0 at halftime) - this year I am just on Houston.
The under is 8-3 in UCF's last 11 after allowing less than 275 yards in the previous game and the under is 7-1 in Houston's last eight games after gaining 450 or more yards in the previous game. Plus, these offenses are not as good as they were last year. Even though these teams have averaged about 63 points per game in five games since 2005, they have scored 27 or less in the first half in three of those games. Between the George O'Leary distractions and Houston wanting revenge for last year, I think it will be a relatively low-scoring affair with the Cougars covering.
Pick: First half under 26
Pick: Houston -3
Southern Methodist (0-4) at East Carolina (3-1), Saturday, October 4th, 12pm on ESPNU
This is the first game as a ranked team for the East Carolina Pirates since Sept. 27, 2008. Are you ready for a stunner? Since SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert was injured last year - just before halftime - in the third to the last game of the season, SMU has scored just 38 points in the last 22 quarters. Over that period, SMU opponents have scored 259 points. Another fun fact: 416 FBS players, including three defenders, have scored more points than SMU this year. The Mustangs are last in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
Meanwhile, ECU is coming off of a bye and hosts SMU for their homecoming game. This starts the easiest stretch of games for the Pirates. After SMU, ECU plays South Florida, has a bye and closes out the month at home against UConn on a Thursday night. I took the under in SMU's last two games and have been wrong. I will change it up and continue to double down against them.
Pick: First half ECU -28
Pick: ECU -41
Pick: Over 59
Special Guest Pick-maker, Aman Kidwai, stepping in to give you...
Memphis (2-2) at Cincinnati (2-1), Saturday, October 4th at 7pm on CBSSN
Picked to finish first in the preseason AAC media poll, the Cincinnati Bearcats waited until September 12th to play their first game of the season- opening with a 58-34 rout of Toledo. They followed that up by squeaking past Miami (OH), one of the worst teams in FBS, 31-24. The Bearcats followed that up with a disappointing upset bid against Ohio State, losing 50-28.
Memphis has been a surprise for many this season. One of the worst teams in the American in 2013, even losing to lowly UConn, the Tigers have earned respect nationwide this year after hanging tough with both No. 11 UCLA and No.10 Ole Miss. They could make some real noise with a win on the road against a solid Cincinnati team.
Memphis QB Paxton Lynch threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown on the road against UCLA, he didn't fare as well against Ole Miss, but the Rebels have a really good defense and Cincinnati's is... not. Right now the Bearcats have one of the worst defenses against the pass in the country, allowing 305 yards per game- good enough for 118th in the country. They are 120th in the country in rushing yards allowed (240.7 per game) and 109th in points allowed (36 pts/game). Keep in mind this has been with a game against Miami (OH) and an okay at best Toledo team.
Memphis is a more complete team, and I think they can win on the road. I'll definitely take them to cover the 4-point spread.
Pick: Memphis +4 (I can't believe I'm doing this)