AAC football Week 4 picks: Army vs. Cincinnati & 2 more
Luke Fickell has turned the Cincinnati Bearcats into the class of the American Athletic Conference, usurping the UCF Knights, but now they run the risk of being upset by the Black Knights of Army.
We'll examine that game as well as two more as we dive into our weekly preview of the AAC.
#22 Army vs. #14 Cincinnati
Sat, September 26 2020, 7:30 PM
Army Black Knights
Led by a rising star in the coaching ranks, Jeff Monken, Army won 10 and 11 games in 2017 and 2018, respectively. They seemingly lost control of the season once they failed to bring a victory from the Big House back to West Point, falling to #7 Michigan 24-21 in two overtimes.
Returning a dozen starters, Army is eyeing a New Year’s Day Bowl game. They’ve played like it through the first two weeks of the season, steamrolling Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana-Monroe by a combined score of 79-7. This Saturday they face their first significant test of the season at Cincinnati.
The Cadets present a unique challenge for Cincinnati. Army’s triple-option attack is a fine-tuned machine, filled with upperclassmen. Even so, Cincinnati got a somewhat similar look from FCS Austin Peay in last week’s tuneup. The Bearcats also have the benefit of sharing a conference with another triple option military academy, Navy.
Fickell, a former Ohio State defensive coordinator, has made the defense the strength of his team. Even so, the oddity of the triple option is due to rip off a few long, sustained scoring drives. Searching for their second win over a ranked team in the last 17 tries, Cincinnati should be able to secure the bag at home, but I don't know if they have enough firepower to the cover the big number or surpass the low total.
#13 UCF at East Carolina
Sat, September 26 2020, 4:00 PM
East Carolina Pirates
Central Florida Knights
Josh Heupel's offense is firing on all cylinders with Dillon Gabriel under center. In their season-opening victory over Georgia Tech he threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns while completing over 65 percent of his passes.
Naturally, there was a little early rust, but once Gabriel got comfortable that offense scored at will. It's an awfully big number to bet this week, something you'll have to do regularly if you want to ride with the Knights in 2020.
Tulane at Southern Miss
Sat, September 26 2020, 6:30 PM
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Tulane Green Wave
The Green Wave surrendered a 24-point lead to Navy a week ago. How you can lose a lead that large to a triple option team, I will never understand. Just like I don't understand how in the world you can fire a head coach after just one week in a pandemic-plagued college football season, but that's exactly what Southern Miss did after Jay Hopson lost to South Alabama. Each team has actually played South Alabama already. Based on the transitive property, the Green Wave should win by two touchdowns.