Tampa Bay Sports Day

AAC: Seven Teams Have Football Title Hopes After Saturday

The division races in the American Athletic Conference see a total of seven teams with championship hopes after a day of record-setting performances and high-scoring matchups.

UCF maintained its lead in the East Division as the Knights hold a one-game lead against Temple and Cincinnati.

The Knights would clinch the East with a win against Cincinnati Saturday, but a Bearcat win would make things particularly interesting heading into the final week.

UCF put itself in position to potentially clinch the East Division title as the Knights won their conference-record 22nd straight game with a 35-24 decision against Navy at Spectrum Stadium. UCF raced to an early 21-0 lead before trading touchdowns with the Midshipmen in the second half to remain one of four unbeaten teams nationally (along with Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame).

Yesterday’s results produced a three-way tie for first in the West Division, as SMU, Houston and Tulane hold 4-2 conference records. Memphis is a game behind at 3-3 and remains alive in the race as well. Houston and Tulane meet Thursday in a game that will keep the winner alive, but SMU is the team that controls its outcome with regard to the division title. The Mustangs would win the West if they win their last two games (against Memphis and Tulsa).

Cincinnati set up a showdown for first place in the East as the Bearcats were 35-23 winners against USF at a chilly Nippert Stadium. Michael Warren II rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns and had a TD catch, while the Bearcat defense held the Bulls to 313 yards and 12 first downs.

The Bulls were without regular starting QB Blake Barnett, who missed the game due to injury.

Temple remains alive in the East Division as well after the Owls won a 59-49 shootout at Houston. Temple rode a record-setting performance from running back Ryquell Armstead, who ran for 210 yards and became the first American Athletic Conference player with six rushing touchdowns in a game.

Tulane won its third straight as the Green Wave scored a 24-18 victory against ECU at Yulman Stadium. QB Justin McMillan threw for a career-high 372 yards with three touchdowns, and Darnell Mooney had a huge day with six catches for 217 yards and two TDs.

The defense, meanwhile, set an NCAA record with 20 pass breakups against the Pirates, who attempted 67 passes.

SMU won a shootout with UConn as the Mustangs took a 62-50 victory in East Hartford, Connecticut, in the highest-scoring regular-season game in American Athletic Conference history. The backfield tandem of RB Ke’Mon Freeman and RB Xavier Jones combined for 249 rushing yards and five touchdowns as the Mustangs gained 315 yards on the ground.

SMU has won three of its last four games and five of its last seven to leave the Mustangs a game shy of bowl eligibility with two games remaining. UConn fell despite the play of QB David Pindell, who threw for 215 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 181 yards and two TDs.

Memphis has won back-to-back games after the Tigers came away with a 47-21 decision against Tulsa at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis built a 27-0 halftime lead and rode the play of RB Darrell Henderson to the win. Henderson rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns