Tag Archives: Gunner Kiel

The American Athletic Conference’s Best Football Games of 2016

The AAC has been looked at as little more than a mish-mash of former Big East teams. One season has changed all that. Nobody expects them to move up to the level of a Power 5 conference, but they can’t be looked at as mere push-overs.

Last season, Houston achieved program-altering success and that momentum, along with their schedule, gives them an outside shot at the Playoff in 2016. It wasn’t just the Houston Cougars earning the AAC respect. Temple, Navy, and Memphis were all in the Top 25 at one point during the season. While a couple of those teams may fall back a bit with the loss of quarterbacks, other teams are primed to improve and make sure Houston doesn’t just waltz through the conference schedule.

Who will those teams be? There are some early season games among the ten best that may show which AAC team can challenge the Cougars for the top spot.

10. Temple vs. SMU (Saturday, October 1)

The conference opener for both teams, Temple will try to pick up where it left off last year. A year ago, SMU put up 40 against a Temple defense that allowed the second fewest points in the conference. The Mustangs still fell 60-40.

9. Cincinnati vs. Houston (Thursday, September 15)

Cincinnati was a disappointing 4-4 in the conference last year but was 5-1 at home, where they’ll get the Houston Cougars this year. The Bearcats only lost by three at Houston last year, and this Thursday home game early in the year will give them a chance to derail Houston’s conference and playoff hopes. This match-up will also provide the AAC’s two best quarterbacks in Greg Ward Jr. and Gunner Kiel.

8. SMU vs. TCU (Friday, September 23)

SMU didn’t exactly put a scare into TCU last year, but a 56-37 final made it closer than the Horned Frogs would have liked. Now the Mustangs get Gary Patterson’s crew at home, and we’ll have a good chance to see how far Chad Morris can bring his team in his second year as head coach.

7. Connecticut at South Florida (Saturday, October 15)

South Florida won seven of its last eight regular season games last year. Included in that stretch was a one-score victory over UConn. If the Huskies are going to improve on their six-win season and stay in the race for the AAC West, it starts here.

6. Temple at Connecticut (Friday, November 4)

This will be a big game in the AAC West race. Connecticut’s offense was abysmal last year, but Huskie fans hope there will be improvement with ten starters back. Temple will be trying to replicate the success of their 10-win 2015 after having just 12 total in the previous three seasons.

5. Houston at SMU (Saturday, October 22)

This should be a fun one. SMU struggled in Chad Morris’ first year as head coach but it shouldn’t take him long to get the offense rolling. The defense will have problems stopping Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. led offense, but the Cougars lost all four starting defensive backs so this game should see plenty of points.

4. Temple vs. South Florida (Friday, October 21)

The East division is Houston and everyone else this year, but the West will be up for grabs. This game could determine who plays the Cougars in the conference championship game. Temple and South Florida were the two best teams in the West last year and the winner of this one will have a leg up in the division race.

3. Houston vs. Connecticut (Thursday, September 29)

Houston gets Connecticut on a Thursday night at home, where they will try to avenge their only loss from the 2015 season. It won’t be easy though, with the Huskies returning a conference-high 16 starters.

2. Houston vs. Louisville (Thursday, November 17)

The Cougars get another chance to make a statement with this oddly scheduled non-conference game late in the year. If the Cougars lose to Oklahoma in the opener, no one will give them much credit unless they show up big in this one. This might be the best defense Greg Ward Jr. and company face all year.

1. Houston vs. Oklahoma (Saturday, September 3)

Houston heads into 2016 with a ton of hype after going 13-1 with a win over Florida State in 2015. We’ll see if they can sustain that success right off the bat when they play the Sooners in the season opener. With Greg Ward Jr. back, the offense should hold its own. This game will be about which rebuilt defense can get enough stops (Noon est, ABC/ESPN).

E-mail Jason at or follow him on Twitter @JLindy87

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My Cleveland Sports Weekend

Dear Diary,

You won’t believe the sports weekend I just had!

First, in high school football action on Friday, my North Ridgeville Rangers suffered a Homecoming Game defeat to the dreaded Midview Middies, 28-14. Junior RB Demario McCall (Run DMC we call him) had a terrible time trying toRunDMC cut and run in the muddy, wet conditions and just couldn’t get it done. It’s strange to say that 103 yards and a TD is his worst game of the season but it’s true. Word on the street is that Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was checking him out a few weeks ago… Hmmmm.

Saturday was all about the Buckeyes. I’ll admit, their pass defense leaves much to be desired. They are playing like two separate defensive units, The Front Seven and buckeyesThe Back Four. Nope, not a fan of the Fickell, but you already know that. Anyway, with Cincinnati QB Gunner “The Gunslinger” Kiel at the helm, the Bearcats got over 400 yards of offense. Heck Gunner threw for 4 TDs and 346 yards! Luckily, JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott were more than ready to show that the Buckeyes have some offense too… JT had 324 passing yards, 79 rushing yards and 4 TDs of his own! And Zeke with 188 rushing yards?!? Amazing! Mark another one in the Buckeyes Win Column 50-28! That’s three games in a row where the offense socred 50+ points. I guess if the defense can’t hold ’em, we’ll have to win in shoot-out fashion!

I hear the Cavaliers had some kind of scrimmage and then a game vs the head coaches former team from Israel but really, it’s football season. Am I right? LOL Whatevs.

Now, Sunday was the capper! Let me tell you, diary, I was freaking out until around 4:10pm watching the Browns play down at the Tennessee Titans. It’s a good thing I am the only one in the office on Sundays because I was screaming and yelling and throwing things (just a couple things and they were soft so nothing got broken), but really, the missed tackles and mental mistakes make me crazy! Being down 28-10 at the half is insane! I know we came back to tie the Steelers in week 1 being down 24 points but I hadn’t seen enough to have faith that good guys in the white jerseys could come from behind. Again. And don’t even get me started on the defense! Could we give up just a few more points to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst? And his pony tail? Really? REALLY??? ARGH!BrownsvTitans

But oh gee lordy was I surprised when the second half started and the defense just shut them down. Plus, we never gave up on the run, just kept cranking away and chipping their lead down until we were ahead by 1 point! And yes, I was afraid that 1 minute on the clock was too much time for us to give the Titans. Can you blame me? Well, all I can say now is: HALELUJIAH BABY IT’S VICTORY MONDAY! I totally <3 Travis Benjamin. Sigh. He’s really making a name for himself as the Play Maker this team needs while JG is out. I’m not ready to declare them the Kardiac Kids 2.014 but maybe the Comeback Kids is who they are… or The Spread Coverers. LOL

Can I handle a long season of 3-point games differentials? As long as we are actually scoring TDs and finding ways to WIN these close games, you bet your butt I can handle it! Go Browns!

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Ohio State Game Guide: Cincinnati

Ezekiel ElliotWhat a week it was for the B1G. Going 12-1 as a conference is no easy feat, and to have Indiana go on the road and beat an SEC team is flat out remarkable. This week the Buckeyes have their sights set firmly set on the Bearcats that come from i71 south. Not sure how to go about watching your beloved Buckeyes this week? Well have no fear, we have you covered with this week’s game guide.
What We Learned
Being as it was Kent State who the Buckeyes played last, followed by a bye week, we didn’t learn a whole heck of a lot. Two weeks ago we saw what this Ohio State squad could do to a woefully unskilled opponent, and we also saw that the B1G wasn’t half bad this past Saturday. Though most of the victories came against MAC opponents, Iowa and Indiana got gold stars for beating both Missouri and Pittsburgh at home.

Gunner Kiel
Gunner Kiel could be a problem for Ohio State’s Secondary

What to Watch
Somehow the game against Cincinnati is being labeled as the first major test for the defensive backs. To which I say, “good for you guys, for forgetting how you got torched by Virginia Tech on third and longs all night long. It takes a real mentalist to forget those wounds, so well played.” In all seriousness, Cincinnati quarterback, Gunner Kiel, has made opposing teams look like Syria, as he has been on aerial assault mode. Head Coach Tommy Tuberville has also said that his group of receivers at UC is the best group he’s ever coached, and this is coming from a guy who coached for a long time in the SEC. On the other side of the ball, it will be interesting to see if Cincinnati implements the same Bear defense that Virginia Tech used to destroy the Buckeye offense.
Who to Watch
Along the same lines of Gunner Kiel and his band of merry receivers, the Ohio State defensive backs have been talking the talk all week long, so it will be interesting to see if they can back up their game. I will be watching to see if Curtis Grant can take care of the underneath routes that have been torching the Buckeyes. If he can’t get it done, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Raekwon McMillan get some valuable minutes. On the other side of the ball tight end, Jeff Heuerman, is back in action, and I’m sure he is ready to smell that sweet end zone aroma.
Ohio State FootballWhere to Watch
The game is at 6:00 pm at home, which is one of my favorite times for a game. You don’t have to get up and rush down to the stadium, but you’re also not getting done at 11:30 or midnight. I also don’t know if anyone has noticed, but it’s officially fall outside, with cool nights and comfortable days. If you can’t make it to the game, I would check out Little Bar on High Street, just north of Lane Avenue. As a guy who is shorter than the average bear buck, Little Bar is one of my favorite places to watch the games, as they typically bring out a giant television for all to enjoy. While it is sometimes hard to view during the day, a night game provides the perfect lighting — or lack thereof — to watch the game. $2 drafts ain’t bad either.
Where not to Watch
Anywhere that is approximately 2 hours southwest of  Columbus, and right next to the Ohio river. That’s right, I’m talking about the ol’ dirty dirty, Cincinnati. While I have recently come to enjoy the queen city, if I had to, I would drive through Indiana to avoid it this weekend. Why take great lengths to avoid Cincinnati and it’s city full of Cincinnitiens (?) this weekend? Because any group of people who are delusional enough to attempt something like this, can only be bat-shit insane.
Prediction
This will be closer than the experts think. Virginia Tech gave opposing teams a blue print to beat Ohio State, and I think that Tuberville will bring the house on defense and make J.T. Barrett beat them with his arm. If this game gets out of hand, look for a general “sky is falling” mentality, as it will be the first time an in-state team has beaten Ohio State for almost a century. Hopefully the Urban gets the Buckeyes out of the woods and to B1G play with a winning record.
Ohio State 31 Cincinnati 28