Saturday, October 10, 2015

New American Frontier - Featured Game of the Week: Navy vs. #15 Notre Dame

As the conference continues to look for credibility in the eyes of the nation, another opportunity arises this week. Navy carries the United States flag and AAC banner into South Bend on the Golden Domer network aka NBC. 

Navy hasn't beaten Notre Dame since 2010 when Navy beat ND 3 out of 4 times from 2007 to 2010. Recently the Irish have run off four straight but Navy has been competitive the last two meetings.

The Irish are listed as a 14.5 point favorite. Needless to but Irish dominate the series 75-12-1.  Tomorrow the Middies hope to inch closer to narrowing the gap. Can they?

The keys for Navy? Keenan Reynolds, Keenan Reynolds and more Keenan Reynolds. Notre Dame is going to game plan for Reynolds but until they can actually stop him, Navy must feed the Irish a steady Reynolds diet. Of course Navy coaches will keep that in mind when doing their own game plan. If they can work in some play action, they might be able to make Irish defenders hesitate enough to let Reynolds run loose. On the other hand, ND did contain Reynolds to 47 yards on 18 carries but Navy still ran wild with 336 yards. 

The Middie defense must get to ND QB early and often. Even though he is young and inexperienced, Deshone Kizer has performed well since been thrown into the fire. The Irish will need to mix it up with C.J. Prosise running and WR Will Fuller to keep Navy defense off balance.

This is a big game not only for Navy but for the conference resume. With East Carolina traveling to quasi-member BYU and USF hosting Syracuse, the American has a chance to make a resounding statement to the rest of the college football world....The American is no longer rising....We Are Here! Deal With It!

New American Frontier: Cougars Turn Peruna in to Purina

I made my first UH game of the season and it was worth it. I have season tickets to the Texans and I was torn about going to the game.  At the end of the day, I decided to watch the most exciting football team in the city of Houston.

The Coogs had me on edge most the first half.  The Ponies took a 14-7 lead early on.  I had nightmares of last year's UTSA game.

The first two SMU drives were to easy.  I wondered out loud if this was a repeat of UTSA all over again.

SMU's first two drives went for touchdowns drives of 82 and 75 yards.  Houston's defense looked clueless and exploited in the first quarter.  Several times UH looked to have a sack or a stop for a short gain only to see missed tackles leading to more Mustang yards.

Fortunately the Cougar offense was able to respond.  Greg Ward, Jr and the offense made quick work in their opening possession.  The Coogs shredded the Mustang defense in 4 plays for 75 yard in 1:14 drive to equal the score at 7.

The Mustangs again were able to move the ball with ease in building a 21-14 lead at the 6:18 mark in the 2nd quarter.

The Houston offense stalled again and punted to the Ponies.  The way SMU moved the ball it appeared the could add to their lead.

Instead the Cougar defense decided to join the game.  After the Houston punt, on a 3rd and 4 play, UH linebacker Steven Taylor strip sacked SMU QB Matt Davis and Adrian McDonald recovered for Houston on the Pony 12.

Two players later, Kenneth Farrow ran 6 yards and the game was knotted at 21.

On the ensuing drive, Pony once again coughed on the ball.  This time it was freshman running back Braeden West giving Houston the ball on the Cougar 43 with 44 seconds left in the half.

No problem for the Greg Ward, Jr. Show.  The key play was a Ward 28 yard pass to Steve Dunbar that moved the Coogs in to SMU territorty with 26 seconds.  With no timeouts left and the ball on the two, instead of clocking the ball, Ward took the ball in for a TD with 2 seconds remaining.  Houston 28, SMU 21 and the game had been seized by the Cougars.

SMU never was able to recover from the two minute disaster to end the half.

The Mustangs looked hapless the rest of the game as the Cougars reeled off three more TDs to take a 49-21 lead.

Final Houston 49 SMU 28

Cougar Notes and Analysis
I'm not sure why the defense allowed three early touchdowns early on.  Though it does mirror what happened to the Mustangs vs ECU last week.  They stormed out to an early lead before the Pirates changed quarterbacks and ran amok over the Pony defense.

Either the Mustangs had a sound game plan coming in and the Cougars made the right adjustments or there was some lingering affects of a short week.  I don't buy the short week theory though.  The Mustangs had the same short week the Cougars had.  My guess is SMU came out fired up, played lights out for a half but the talent level for the Coogs eventually caught up with SMU and ended their hopes for victory.

Kicker Kyle Bullard lost the his kicking duties to kick off specialist Ty Cummings.  Bullard struggled early in the season and after the Tulsa game head coach Tom Herman opened the place kicking duties to competition.

With back up quarterback Adam Schulz out for the year, the Cougars are dangerously thin at the position.  Nursing a 42-21 lead late in the 4th quarter, I would have liked to see Kyle Postma get reps for experience and to protect Ward.  Instead, Ward stayed in the game.  However, Herman chose not to expose Ward to injury.

The Coogs took over possession after a SMU punt with 1:06 left in the 3rd.   To protect the lead and Ward, the Cougars mounted a 8:38 minute drive for that resulted in a touchdown.  The drive featured all heavy run dose and only two passes out of sixteen plays. I did cringe when Ward ran the ball twice including the final TD.

Houston's reputation as a pass heavy offense was put on hold vs SMU.  They ground pounded the Ponies for 214 yards and 7 TDs.  It is the second game in a row that Houston doesn't score through the air.

Ward set broke Case Keenum's record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Ward now holds the record with 11. Keenum's old record was 9.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

New American Frontier - Week 5 Round Up

Week 5 is in the books and the American Athletic Conference continues its rise. Memphis, Temple, Navy and Houston remain undefeated and started to gain national recognition with votes in both polls. Memphis is the only ranked team at 25 in the Coaches Poll. Boise St. ranks 24 in the Coaches Poll and 25 in the AP. Toledo ranks 24 in the AP.

On the field, Cincinnati demolished Miami on national TV Thursday night 34-23. While the Hurricanes aren't The U of the past, wins like this bring the conference credibility. Miami after is a P5  team and in the ACC...which the American went even with a 3-3 record. The Bearcats did the conference proud. The Bearcats would have a better record but they had the misfortune of having Memphis and Temple early in the schedule. So far they've defeated Miami, OH and the 'Canes. They could probably knock the Dolphins off too.

Friday night featured three games that included one conference match up.

Memphis moved to 2-0 (5-0 overall)in league play with a 24-17 over South Florida. The win extends the Tigers unbeaten streak 12 and the best start in 54 years. The Tigers go into an open date next week to prepare for a showdown with Ole Miss in two weeks.

Temple dispatched Charlotte on the road 37-3 to remain undefeated.

UConn traveled to Provo, UT to tangle with BYU. The Huskies acquitted themselves quiet well after 3 quarters tied at 10. However the Cougars posted 20 points to UConn's 3 in the 4th to defeated the Huskies.

Saturday's schedule contained three conference match ups and Navy's first leg of the Commander in Chief's trophy vs. Air Force.

Winless UCF traveled to NOLA to open conference play against Tulane. Despite putting 21 4th quarter points it wasn't enough. The Knights fell 45-31 to the Green Wave.

Tulsa hosted Houston in the conference opener for both teams. While boasting two high flying offenses, the Cougar defense held Tulsa's offense in check to prevail 38-24.

SMU jumped to an early lead on East Carolina but was unable to make it stand. The Pirates roared back to knock out the Mustangs 49-23.

Navy also remains undefeated by sinking Air Force 33-11. Navy dominated both sides of the ball. If they beat Army, the will reclaim the Commander in Chief trophy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New American Frontier - Links for Week of 9-15-15

We are well underway for the 2015 football season.  Temple is off to an amazing start.  Houston's Tom Herman is has the Cougars rolling and living up to the hype. Memphis shows no drop off from last season and Navy joins in football only.  With the American split into two divisions, a "One True Champion" (yeah, B12-2 I'm mocking you) will be crowned.

American Links

College Footbal News

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New American Frontier - News from the AAC 7-28-15

AAC News gives a detailed guide to the B12 expansion.
Complete AAC Media Days Line Up
2014-15 Team Academic Excellence Award Winners

I tweeted AAC Football Fever managing editor and for now the site is on hiatus.

College Football News
With the B1G TV contract coming up, this could affect the upcoming structure of football and sports contracts: Disney CEO says ESPN could be sold to directly to customer.

My Sports Allegiances

My favorite teams are in no particular order: Houston Texans, San Antonio Spurs(NBA champs 99, 03, 05, 07) and the Houston Cougars, Pittsburgh Penguins (Stanley Cups 91, 92, 08)
My secondary teams are: Houston Dynamo(MLS Champs 06, 07), Houston Astros (NL Champs 05), Houston Rockets (NBA Champs 94, 95)
Teams I Hate: Anything out of Dallas
Teams I Enjoy Seeing Lose: Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Baylor Bears football
Teams that are Insignificant: rice owls