Week Six Preview - No. 25 UCF looks to remain unbeaten at Cincinnati

Brandon Helwig, Publisher
UCF Sports
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UCFSports.com

For the first time since the 2013 season, UCF is a ranked team.

The Knights are No. 25 in both major polls, recognition for their 3-0 start with blowout wins against FIU, Maryland and Memphis.

UCF has played solid offensively with a dominating defense, but Scott Frost has cautioned the team all week they haven't earned anything yet. The mantra is not much different from George O'Leary's 12 one-game seasons talk with constant reference to being "0-0" and "unranked" heading into this Saturday's game at Cincinnati. Players have seemingly bought in, realizing an early-season ranking doesn't grant you a conference championship or New Year's Six bowl game.

Cincinnati has struggled somewhat in Luke Fickell's first season with a sore spot being last week's 38-21 home loss to Marshall.

With a win, UCF can accomplish something they've never done at the FBS level: Begin a season 4-0.

Elsewhere in the American, SMU's road game at Houston could have West Division implications. The Cougars still bring street cred for their two years of success under Tom Herman, but SMU could be a serious challenger in their third year under Chad Morris.

Here's a look at games involving the American Athletic Conference.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6

Memphis (3-1, 0-1 AAC) at UConn (1-3, 0-2 AAC)

7 p.m., ESPN

Buzz: Memphis looks to rebound from last week's 40-13 beatdown at the hands of UCF. The Tigers are still thought to be a contender in the West Division, so good news is that game wouldn't count against them in regards to a division tiebreaker. If they get past UConn, looming large the following two weeks are Navy and Houston. UConn only has one win this season against an FCS team, dropping three straight to Virginia, ECU and SMU. Statistically, the offense is showing some signs of life at least compared to last season.

Line: Memphis by 13.5

Head-to-Head Pick: Memphis

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7

Temple (2-3, 0-2 AAC) at East Carolina (1-4, 1-1 AAC)

12 noon, ESPNU

Buzz: Both teams have struggled. Temple has issues scoring (they're averaging 16 points per game) and ECU has issues stopping teams (they're giving up 50 points per game). Both marks rank last in the AAC. The Pirates can show a propensity to put up yards (even if the points don't always come), but they did score 31 against USF, so maybe things are turning around there.

Line: Temple by 2.5

Head-to-Head Pick: ECU


Tulsa (1-4, 0-1 AAC) at Tulane (2-2, 0-1 AAC)

12 noon, ESPN3

Buzz: Originally scheduled for 4 p.m., the game has been moved up to 12 noon in an attempt to avoid weather from an incoming tropical system. Tulsa has been on the short end of several games, including a 31-21 loss to Navy last weekend. Though it's still early, this is the sort of game Tulane needs to win if they want to attain bowl eligibility. The Green Wave are coming off a bye week, they defeated Army in the closing seconds back on Sept. 23.

Line: Tulane by 4.5

Head-to-Head Pick: Tulane


Air Force (1-3, 0-2 MWC) at Navy (4-0, 3-0 AAC)

3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Buzz: One of the games that will decide the winner of the annual Commander In Chief's Trophy (Army being the third participant). AFA won last year's game, 28-14, while Navy won the 2015 game in Annapolis. AFA began the year with a win against FCS VMI and has dropped three straight to Michigan, San Diego State and New Mexico. Navy is 17-2 all-time in American Athletic Conference play and already has three wins this season (Tulane, Cincinnati, Tulsa). Their option attack leads the nation in rushing with 400 yards per game.

Line: Navy by 7.5

Head-to-Head Pick: Navy


SMU (4-1, 1-0 AAC) at Houston (3-1, 1-0 AAC)

7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Buzz: An early-season conference game that could dicate things in the West Division. SMU is quietly off to a great start, their only blemish being a loss to TCU. The Mustangs are averaging a league-best 48.2 points per game. Houston on the other hand may be 3-1, but their offense definitely seems to have taken a step back as they've not received consistent play from the QB position. Kyle Allen was benched last week in favor of Kyle Postma. If SMU can win this one, they have a decent opportunity to be 7-1 heading into the Nov. 4 game against UCF.

Line: Houston by 6.5

Head-to-Head Pick: SMU


No. 25 UCF (3-0, 1-0 AAC) at Cincinnati (2-3, 0-1 AAC)

8 p.m., ESPNU

Buzz: The American has their second top 25 team in UCF, who entered the rankings after last week's 40-13 drubbing of Memphis. The Knights defense has only allowed five touchdowns to their three opponents this season, only giving up 13.3 points per game. Cincinnati, in their first season under Luke Fickell, has limped to a 2-3 start, not looking too impressive even in their wins against Austin Peay and Miami-Ohio. The Bearcats were embarrassed at home last weekend by Marshall, 38-21. UC's top receiver is Kahlil Lewis, a Florida native who the Knights also strongly recruited in the Class of 2015.

Line: UCF by 17

Head-to-Head Pick: UCF


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