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AAC Teams Open Up Conference Play, Louisville Looks to Keep Perfect Record

It’s a bye week for the AAC’s Houston (4-0,1-0), but for #7 Louisville (4-0), it is finally ready to open its conference play and this will come on Saturday against Temple (0-4, 0-1). So far eyebrows have been raised at its not-so-competitive schedule but at some point, the Cardinals will have to play Houston, Cincinnati and Rutgers.

This is could wreak a little havoc on its quest for the AAC title.

But for now, this first week shouldn’t prove too challenging. Temple lost last week to Idaho, 26-24 after the previous week’s loss against Fordham, 30-29.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville has defeated Temple in their last three matchups and last season, they won 45-17 in a game that included 28 unanswered points. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns in the game–a career high. He’s been a bit out of the conversation lately but still sits at 5/1 to win the Heisman trophy.

To date, Bridgewater has 1,214 yards (71.8 pass completion), 14 touchdowns and one pick.

Looking ahead, Bridgewater will need to put up big numbers in what many consider is an inferior conference and its quarterbacks when compared to either the SEC (Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel) or the Pac-12 (Oregon’s Marcus Mariota).

This week could provide a good chance for Bridgewater to put up big numbers. Look for a dominant Louisville win (-32, 48 o/u).

Rutgers vs. SMU

After its big Sept. 21 victory against Arkansas (3-2, 0-1), Rutgers (3-1) returns to action after its bye week and will also kick off conference play with a match up against SMU (1-3). This is the first meeting between the two and for the Mustangs, they will make their AAC debut by going old school: wearing blue throwback jerseys from the 1980s.

Good luck trying to spur a win against Rutgers with those.

In the Scarlet Knights’ first four games this season, they have scored 28 points-plus–a first for the team in its history. They have won three straight games after their #23 Fresno State (4-0, 2-0) season-opening overtime loss at 52-51.

Paul James

Paul James

Unfortunately for Rutgers, running back Paul James will be out for a few weeks (also likely out for the Louisville game too) with a lower right leg injury. He’ll be missed as his six touchdowns over two games equaled Rutgers’ team total from 2012.

He sits at No. 9 in the nation for rushing with his 573 yards.

Lucky for SMU, its running back Traylon Shead, formerly a Texas player, will return after getting injured in Week 1. He join his teammates, the top wide receiving duo of Darius Joseph and Jeremy Johnson. They are tops in the nation for pass catching with Joseph ranked No. 2 (9.8 catches per game) with Johnson at No. 6 (8.5 catches a game).

From their play, SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert ranks No. 2 in the nation with his 34 completions per game.

But this SMU team is not exactly a scoring machine with its 31 points for a season high over Montana State in its only win this season. Now that they’re in AAC play, they will face greater challenges.

Rutgers gets the win (-4.5, 55.5 o/u).

Cincinnati vs. USF

These two teams will meet for their first AAC games and USF (0-4) sits as one of three conference teams yet to see a victory in the 2013 season. Cincinnati (Coach Tommy Tuberville feels this will still be a challenging game for his team as it hits the road.

He said via the MiamiHerald.com, “I don’t worry about wins and losses. We are playing a team that hasn’t won a game that is probably as good as any team we have played so far.”

Steven Bench

Steven Bench

USF will again have Steven Bench start as its quarterback but he’ll face an uphill battle as the team only has six offensive touchdowns in their first four games.

Sorry Bulls, another loss is headed your way (-12.5, 48 o/u).


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