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Top AAC game of Week 4 features Arkansas-Rutgers


April L. Brown / Associated Press
Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams will try to help the Razorbacks avenge last season's loss to Rutgers.

The AAC gained some national attention last week, when UCF won at Penn State. The conference has a chance to gain a lot more this week as league members face teams from the Big Ten and SEC.

Truthfully, it seems a bit much for another win over the Big Ten when Connecticut faces Michigan. And it seems unlikely SMU can beat the SEC's Texas A&M. But Rutgers has a shot when it plays host to the SEC's Arkansas.

Here is a look at all the games involving league teams this week:

7. FIU at Louisville, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: FIU is coming off a 21-point loss to a FCS team, which means Louisville should have this wrapped up by halftime. Louisville didn't look sharp at times in last week's win over Kentucky. Will the Cardinals clean up their issues for this one? Someone is going to have a big game offensively for the Cardinals: Will it be QB Teddy Bridgewater, WRs DeVante Parker or Damian Copeland, TE Gerald Christian or TBs Michael Dyer or Senorise Perry?

6. Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio), Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Rating: 1.5 stars

The skinny: Cincinnati has won six in a row in this rivalry. This is the 118th meeting dating to 1888, tied for the third-most-played series in the nation. Miami is horrendous defensively, allowing 46.5 points per game, and Cincy has the offensive personnel to take advantage.

5. Arkansas State at Memphis, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Rating: 1.5 stars

The skinny: Arkansas State has won four of the past five in the series. TB David Oku, who began his career at Tennessee, will put pressure on a Memphis defense that has been good against the run. Memphis junior DE Martin Ifedi (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) is one of the better defensive linemen in the AAC. Arkansas State senior DT Ryan Carrethers (6-2, 330) is one of the more underrated tackles nationally and definitely is on NFL scouts' radars. He had 68 tackles last season and already has 22 this season.

4. SMU at Texas A&M, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN U

Rating: 2 stars

The skinny: This matches the nation's No. 4 passer in SMU's Garrett Gilbert, at 352.5 yards per game, and No. 10 passer in A&M's Johnny Manziel, at 328.0 yards per game. A big game from Gilbert may move him into the draft discussion. SMU CB Kenneth Acker (6-0, 195) can improve his draft stock if he can stymie A&M WR Mike Evans (6-5, 225). Overall, though, look for SMU's defense to get torched: The Mustangs surrendered 41 points to Texas Tech and 30 to Montana State.

3. Michigan at Connecticut, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Rating: 2 stars

The skinny: UConn is bad, but, hey, so is Akron, and the Zips almost won in Ann Arbor last week. UConn has one of the nation's best inside linebackers in junior Yawin Smallwood (6-4, 236), and junior CB Byron Jones (6-1, 191) is talented, as well. Smallwood will be busy trying to keep Michigan's offensive line from carving out big running lanes. Can Michigan QB Devin Gardner play a mistake-free game? UConn has forced four turnovers in its two games.

2. Houston at Rice, Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, FSN

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: The campuses are about six miles apart, making this the closest-in-proximity rivalry in major college football. This is the 40th meeting for the "Bayou Bucket." Rice has the best kicker in the nation in senior Chris Boswell, who kicked his 12th career 50-yarder in last week's win over Kansas. A good individual matchup: Houston sophomore WR Deontay Greenberry (6-3, 198) vs. Rice senior CB Phillip Gaines (5-9, 185), the Conference USA preseason defensive player of the year. Gaines had 18 pass breakups last season. Houston true freshman QB John O'Korn, from prep powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, seems likely to get his first career start.

1. Arkansas at Rutgers, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Rating: 3.5 stars

The skinny: Rutgers beat the Hogs last season, when Arkansas was a mess offensively. This season, the Hogs are all about the run, and sophomore Jonathan Williams (6-0, 222) and true freshman Alex Collins (5-11, 206) have combined to rush for 811 yards and five TDs. Senior C Travis Swanson (6-5, 315) is one of the best in the nation at his position. Arkansas senior DE Chris Smith (6-3, 270) already has 4.5 sacks, and he will be going against Rutgers sophomore LT Keith Lumpkin (6-8, 315), who Scarlet Knights coaches think is a star on the rise. Both teams could be without their starting quarterbacks. Rutgers has a big-time weapon in junior WR Brandon Coleman (6-6, 220), but will he get the ball? The Arkansas secondary can be exploited.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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