AAC football Week 5 picks: Memphis vs. SMU & 3 more
The American Athletic Conference returns to action this weekend with a bevy of entertaining games. BetAmerica analyst Nick Roush dives into four of the most enticing matchups and offers his picks for each.
#25 Memphis vs. SMU
Sat, October 3 2020, 7:30 PM
Southern Methodist Mustangs
Saturday is finally the day the Memphis Tigers will return to a football field.
Coronavirus plagued the program after the Top 25 team opened their season against Arkansas State in Week 1, a 13-point win that looks even more impressive after the Red Wolves knocked off Kansas State in Week 2, the same Kansas State team that upset No. 3 Oklahoma in Week 4.
Based purely off the transitive property, Memphis is ready roll into the top five. After a rumored party bus caused an outbreak that forced the matchup with Houston to be postponed, this will be the first test for Ryan Silverfield’s team in a month. Even so, the team will not be at full strength when Memphis travels to Dallas to take on SMU.
"I don't know if any of our players that have been out due to COVID, whether it be contact tracing or actually being directly affected with it, will be able to play 45 plays every rep," Silverfield said earlier this week. "We're going to have rotate or be rotational in all three phases of our game.”
They may not be at full strength, but Memphis is expected to have two of the best playmakers in the American Athletic Conference on the field this Saturday. Kenneth Gainwell switched from wide receiver to running back in 2019 and racked up more than 2,000 yards of offense, rushing for 1,459 yards and totaling 610 receiving yards. At wide receiver Damonte Coxie is one of the biggest targets in the AAC at 6'3" and 200 pounds. He’s racked in more than 1,000 yards in reach of the last two seasons.
Brady White is experienced, but SMU will have a slight advantage at the quarterback position. Shane Buechele had the best completion percentage in the AAC last season while finishing just shy of 4,000 yards passing.
The Mustangs are known for putting up a ton of points under Sonny Dykes. Through the first three games they’re averaging just under 49 points per game. Meanwhile, their defense has not done a good job of stopping anyone. This matchup checks all of the boxes for an entertaining shootout. In addition to the offensive weapons on each side, the Memphis defense will be rusty after almost a month off.
Navy vs. Air Force
Sat, October 3 2020, 10:00 PM
Air Force Falcons
The first battle between military academies this fall should produce fireworks. Frankly, it’s amazing the line is this large in a rivalry game. Underdogs have covered in 10 of the last 11 meetings between the academies. Be wise and take the home dogs against Navy’s triple option attack.
Tulsa at #11 UCF
Sat, October 3 2020, 11:30 PM
Central Florida Knights
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
UCF was one score away from covering an enormous number at East Carolina a week ago. This week they have another big number against a team that’s already slowed down one Top 25 team. Tulsa limited Oklahoma State to only 16 points in a narrow loss in Stillwater. They won’t slow down UCF that much, but the Golden Hurricane will keep it respectable.
East Carolina vs. Georgia State
Sat, October 3 2020, 4:00 PM
Georgia State Panthers
East Carolina Pirates
Each team only has a game under the belt and both were losses. Even though the Pirates hung in well enough to cover, the game was really never close against UCF. Georgia State almost knocked off Louisiana in their home opener, ultimately falling in overtime to the top 25 team. Georgia State has enough horses to cover the small number at home.