Week 6 AAC - UCF-Memphis, Cincinnati-USF

Posted Oct 3, 2013

Week 6 AAC Fearless Predictions & Game Previews, Part 2

- Rutgers at SMU & Louisville at Temple

UCF (3-1) at Memphis (1-2) Oct. 5, 4:30, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: While UCF put on an impressive show last week against visiting South Carolina, it came up a little short in its quest to make national news. The Knights squandered a 10-0 halftime lead, falling 28-25. Still, the goal remains winning The American and appearing in a school-first BCS bowl game, a journey that starts with this week's trip to the Liberty Bowl. Memphis is noticeably improved under second-year head coach Justin Fuente, even if the gains are incremental. The Tigers played well in early losses to Duke and Middle Tennessee, before routing Arkansas State, 31-7, in the program's tightest performance in years.

Why UCF Might Win: The Knights will enjoy a significant edge in offensive personnel, particularly behind center. While the Tigers are employing a true freshman, Paxton Lynch, UCF boasts one of the game's more underrated quarterbacks in Blake Bortles. Memphis is struggling on offense, a trend likely to continue against the speed and the experience of the Knight D. If Bortles is feeding his playmakers, RB Storm Johnson and receivers Rannell Hall, J.J. Worton and Breshad Perriman, the Tigers will be dragged out of their comfort zone.

Why Memphis Might Win: Without any fanfare, coordinator Barry Odom is doing an outstanding job with the Tiger defense. The unit ranks a respectable No. 30 nationally, while allowing just three yards a carry. The no-name group is being led by CB Bobby McCain and DE Martin Ifedi, who's racked up nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in just three games. If UCF is suffering any kind of a hangover from last week, Memphis now has the defense to turn this into a 60-minute struggle.

Who To Watch Out For: There's a lot of speed and tenacity on the UCF defense with which Memphis must contend. One such Knight is LB Terrance Plummer, who ranks among the nation's leaders in tackles.

- South Carolina was able to run the ball on UCF last week. Memphis isn't South Carolina, but the Tigers like what they saw two weeks from RB Marquis Warford, a rookie from San Antonio who rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries.

- Can UCF neutralize the motor of Ifedi, one of the AAC's emerging pass rushers? The Knights have done a decent job of protecting the pocket, aided by the savvy and athleticism of Bortles.
What Will Happen: Memphis is a team on the rise, one that'll become increasingly tricky to face as the season unfolds. For now, though, the Tigers lack the offensive firepower to stay with Bortles & Co. for all 60 minutes. UCF will need a quarter or two to shake the Week 4 cobwebs, before pulling away for the win in the second half.

Prediction: UCF 34 … Memphis 14
Line: UCF -10.5 o/u: 48.5
Must See Rating: (5 5 shut down this week due to lack of government funding – 1 Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off) … 2
Buy tickets for this game at TicketCity

Cincinnati (3-1) at South Florida (0-4) Oct. 5, 7:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Cincinnati comes out of its bye week with heavy hearts, having just attended the funeral of OL Ben Flick, who was killed in a car accident. The grieving Bearcats are off to Tampa for their AAC opener at Raymond James Stadium. The program is off to a shaky 3-1 start that includes a blowout loss at the hands of Illinois and a narrow escape of winless Miami (OH). South Florida is making a strong case for being the worst team currently a member of an AQ conference. Rookie head coach Willie Taggart is still looking for his first win, unable to get past the likes of McNeese State and Florida Atlantic last month.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: The Bearcats will benefit from their week off, tweaking some offensive issues. It won't take much to outscore a futile South Florida offense that ranks among the worst in the country. The Bulls, which are completing less than 40% of their passes, will have an especially difficult time moving the ball on a veteran Cincy back seven that boasts linebackers Greg Blair and Nick Temple, and an improving secondary.
Why South Florida Might Win: The Bulls boast individual defensive talent, such as LB DeDe Lattimore, but the unit as a whole has not played well. If South Florida is going to reverse its recent trend, it'll have to be fueled by RB Marcus Shaw, the one Bull who's playing with some consistency. Despite no support from the passing game, he's run for 525 yards and two scores on 77 carries, helping to give breathers to his D.
Who To Watch Out For: USF ends Ryne Giddins and Aaron Lynch continue to be disappointments, combining for just two sacks from the former. Their challenge gets even tougher this week with a visit from a sturdy Bearcat O-line that's only allowed three sacks.

- A trip to Tampa means a return home for Cincinnati LB Jeff Luc, a Port St. Lucie native, whose career began at Florida State.

- The Bearcats need more from their passing game than what was shown two weeks ago. QB Brendon Kay has been ineffective at stretching defenses, doing most of his work on short and intermediate routes.

What Will Happen: South Florida is a complete mess, a situation that'll require at least one offseason before any progress is seen. Cincinnati, on the other hand, has hope for the postseason in Tommy Tuberville's debut in the Queen City. The Bearcats will neutralize Shaw, ensuring that the Bull offense keeps spinning its wheels.

Prediction: Cincinnati 30 … South Florida 13
Line: Cincinnati -11.5 o/u: 48.5
Must See Rating: (5 5 shut down this week due to lack of government funding – 1 Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off) … 2
Buy tickets for this game at TicketCity