Week 2 - Is Cincinnati Ready To Be Good?

Posted Sep 7, 2013

Week 2 AAC Fearless Predictions - Houston at Temple & More

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Houston (1-0) at Temple (0-1) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The third-ever meeting between Houston and Temple will be a conference matchup now that the Cougars are a full-fledged member of the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars got off to a much-needed fast start for second-year coach Tony Levine, roughing up FCS Southern, 62-13. The Owls were no match for Notre Dame in the opening game for head coach Matt Rhule, falling meekly in South Bend in their maiden trip to South Bend. Temple will struggle to avoid the league cellar this year.
Why Houston Might Win: Temple will have its hands full with a Cougars' offense that already looks to have more rhythm than a year ago. QB David Piland is a veteran of the system, surrounded by an athletic supporting cast. Receivers Daniel Spencer and Deontay Greenberry, in particular figure to get little resistance from a flimsy Owls back seven.
Why Temple Might Win: Having faced the Irish on the road, the Owls begin Week 2 battle-tested. Yeah, the offense produced just six points, but Temple cranked out 25 first downs in the first game running Rhule's no-huddle attack. QB Connor Reilly is going to present problems for a middling Houston D, both with his arm and his legs.
Who To Watch Out For: So far, so good for the Houston ground game following the transfer of Charles Sims. The Cougars rolled up 372 yards, including 120 and two scores from young Ryan Jackson.

- Going forward, Temple will need more help for Reilly. Backs Kenny Harper and Zaire Williams, for instance, must provide more balance to the pro-style offense.

- Which linebacker gets to double-digit tackles first, Temple Tyler Matakevich or Houston's Derrick Mathews? Both players cover a ton of ground in run defense.
What Will Happen: The Temple offense is liable to surprise now that Notre Dame isn't on the other side of the line. However, the Owls won't have enough diversity or pop to match the speed and balance of Houston. The Cougars will spread the wealth, getting out of Philadelphia with their first AAC victory.
Prediction: Houston 34 … Temple 26
Line: Houston -3 – O/U: 62
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann - 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

Cincinnati (1-0) at Illinois (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Cincinnati and Illinois meet for just the second time ever in a Midwest battle that could propel the winner to a new plateau by Sunday morning. The Bearcats already own one impressive win over a Big Ten opponent, whipping Purdue, 42-7, in front of a record crowd. The program couldn't have been more pleased with the opening act of head coach Tommy Tuberville, who's determined to give Louisville a run in the AAC this season. The Illini got a W last Saturday as well, but with many more concerns and sweaty palms. It jumped all over Southern Illinois before hanging on for a 42-34 win. This is pivotal season for head coach Tim Beckman, who needs all of the breaks and breakthroughs he can manage.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: There was nothing to dislike about the Bearcats' first bout with a second-rate Big Ten opponent. They were perfectly balanced on offense, while stifling the Boilermakers all afternoon. The Illini D, which returns just three starters, failed to produce a sack or turnover, and gave up 341 passing yards. Athletic QB Munchie Legaux presents problem for a youthful defense still trying to find its way.
Why Illinois Might Win: Hope comes in the form of senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who threw for a career-high 416 yards in the win over the Salukis. He had three completions of more than 50 yards, hooking up with Ryan Lankford, Josh Ferguson and Steve Hull. Scheelhaase will attempt to exploit a Cincy secondary still adjusting to the presence of two new starters.
Who To Watch Out For: Illinois' pass protection woes remain after allowing five sacks to Southern Illinois. While Cincinnati has no sure-things up front, coordinator Art Kaufman may want to turn loose his linebackers on occasion.

- The combination of Ralph David Abernathy and Hosey Williams appears capable of carrying the Cincinnati ground game this season. Their objective this week will be to avoid Illinois' best defensive player, LB Jonathan Brown.

- Don't be shocked if Cincinnati bullies Illinois when it has the ball. The Bearcats boast a terrific line, led by Eric Lefeld and Austen Bujnoch, while the Illini is weak up front.
What Will Happen: While it's never easing going on the road, Tuberville already has his Bearcats playing with some swagger and execution. They won't become unnerved by Champaign, especially since the home team has issues on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati, passed over by other leagues during realignment, will control the lines en route to a 2-0 mark against Big Ten opponents.
Prediction: Cincinnati 34 … Illinois 24
Line: Cincinnati -8 o/u: 56
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann - 1 Total Divas) … 2.5

Duke (1-0) at Memphis (0-0) Sept. 7, 4:30, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Duke and Memphis in the same building makes for an interesting matchup on hardwood. It'll produce a few intriguing storylines on grass as well. The Blue Devils began 2013 by blanking N.C. Central, 45-0. It's an important season for sixth-year head coach David Cutcliffe, who wants to show that Duke's 2012 bowl berth was a harbinger of things to come rather than an aberration. The Tigers were among the handful of FBS schools that didn't begin their campaign last weekend. Memphis, which has joined The American, is in the early stages of a rebuilding process under second-year coach Justin Fuente.
Why Duke Might Win: The parts are in place for the offense to be potent this year in Durham. Cutcliffe has no reservations about first-year starting QB Anthony Boone, who gives the attack an element of athleticism from the pocket. Memphis doesn't have a defensive back capable of silencing Boone's favorite target, Jamison Crowder, and Jela Duncan is an improving runner. The Blue Devils O-line is vastly underrated.
Why Memphis Might Win: The Tigers, too, are upbeat about their offense entering 2013. This game marks the start of the Paxton Lynch era behind center. The 6-7, 225-pound redshirt freshman has the long arm that was lacking a year ago. He'll stretch the Duke defense, while feeding up-and-coming RB Brandon Hayes out of the backfield.
Who To Watch Out For: Duke has a very solid offensive line, but it'll get tested by the Memphis front. Martin Ifedi, Terry Redden and Johnnie Farms get upfield and into the backfield in a hurry.

- Sixth-year senior DE Kenny Anunike will get at least a couple of chances to introduce himself to Lynch face-to-face. The heavy-legged Memphis tackles are vulnerable to Anunike's strength and quickness.

- Boone has a chance in his final two years to evolve into a very good player under Cutcliffe. The junior has better feet and a stronger arm than predecessor Sean Renfree.
What Will Happen: Fuente has Memphis undeniably headed in the right direction. And by midseason, this will be a very plucky squad. But in the opener, the Tigers will fall a little short to the more seasoned Blue Devils. In a closer matchup than anticipated, Duke will ride the more consistent passing game to a hard-fought road victory.
Prediction: Duke 31 … Memphis 21
Line: Duke -6 o/u: 49
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

Montana State (1-0) at SMU (0-1) Sept. 7, 8:00, ESPN3.com

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Mustangs would love nothing more than to pick up a victory after suffering a tough loss to Texas Tech this past weekend. They actually trailed by just four going into the fourth, but the defense could not close the door, let alone stop a nosebleed. The Red Raiders under walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield lit them up for 413 yards and four touchdowns. The pass defense better be prepared for Montana State if they want any chance at going bowling.

Why Montana State Might Win: Montana State started off its season with a nice 42-24 victory over Monmouth, but do not take the FCS for granted. There are already eight teams from the FBS that have been stunned by the FCS ranks and this could be a ninth if the SMU defense does not turn it up a notch. Shawn Johnson only toted it five times, but ran for 109 yards and a score in the season opening victory.

Why SMU Might Win: The Mustangs looked solid on offense under QB Garrett Gilbert, but they need to be able to run the ball with more ease. If they become one-dimensional, it will put too much pressure on this offense to just show up and win. The good news is even if they are pass heavy, they are more than talented enough to hang 50 on their way towards victory.

Who To Watch Out For: Jeremy Johnson.

A legit SMU receiver who had no issues getting open against Texas Tech, bank on Johnson getting plenty of opportunities to shine two games in a row. If the Red Raiders had issues covering the senior, we can only anticipate that he should put up monster numbers with the way Gilbert has been threading it.
What Will Happen: The SMU offense is potent and it will be too much for the Bobcats to slow down. Nothing against the FCS, but they cannot continue to pull off several upsets every weekend in the non-conference. This will not be another upset, so expect SMU to get on the fast track by opening up a large lead that will never be let go.
Prediction: SMU 56 … Montana State 10
Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5