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American bags three Power Five wins

Arizona Houston Football-4

Houston quarterback D'Eriq King, left, throws a pass as Arizona linebacker Colin Schooler (7) defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 10, 2018

Just two weeks into the season, the American Athletic Conference has already done its usual by knocking off some notable Power Five opposition, including three during the weekend.

Exemplifying that trend on Saturday was Houston’s high-flying trouncing of Pac-12 member Arizona. In that game, AAC offensive player of the week D’Eriq King figured in six touchdowns — four passing, two rushing — as the Cougars raced out to a 38-0 lead.

It was another early-season signature for the American, now 4-0 versus the Pac-12, and it was another chance for the league’s coaches to tout what is becoming regular success against the game’s top five leagues and to push the conference’s “Power Six” agenda.

“You never want to take anything for granted, but this is something that’s becoming more common,” said UH head coach Major Applewhite, who now will steer his team to Texas Tech. “Power Six wins, there were three of them this weekend, 30 since ’15. This is an incredible conference. There are great players in this conference, and you can see that in the number of (NFL) draft picks compared to the other so-called larger conferences. We’ve got great players and great coaches, and I think people are just continuing to find that out week in and week out.”

Bulls on parade

South Florida also got in on the Power Five purge on Saturday, gutting Georgia Tech from the ACC by a count of 49-38 in Tampa.

Like Houston, USF has been no stranger to the spotlight in recent years and is also off to a 2-0 start under second-year head coach Charlie Strong. The former Texas front man is not surprised that the American continues to hold its own against the game’s elite.

“We talk about Power Six, and look at us against Georgia Tech, look at Houston and what they did against Arizona and how well they played, and ECU and North Carolina. You have teams in this league that can play with anybody in the country,” Strong said. “It is good just to see how strong this league is week in and week out and how competitive it is.”

Pirates’ recruiting boost

East Carolina completed the trifecta of marquee wins in its 41-19 humbling of North Carolina, marking the third straight win for ECU in the series.

As big as those wins have been on the field, the three-game winning streak against the Tar Heels has paid immeasurable dividends in recruiting.

“The bigger deal is it gives us a recruiting platform right here in the state,” Montgomery said of the UNC win. “We played against a lot of guys (on Saturday) that were four-star guys, three-star guys from our state. We get that recognition now of being able to go on the field and compete with a team like UNC.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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