Down in Houston, it was a game with ups and downs for both the Temple Owls and the Houston Cougars in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship Game. However, the powerful Cougs pushed their way over Temple 24-13, all but clinching a New Year's Six Bowl bid.
Temple got off to a rough start, committing two turnovers on their first two drives of the game. Houston capitalized off of an interception and turned it into six from a one yard touchdown rush from Javin Webb. Temple’s second turnover was while they were in Houston’s redzone.
Up 7-0 to start the second quarter, Houston continued to string drives together and pick apart Temple’s defense, including a 24 yard field goal. Greg Ward Jr. kept a snap and took the ball 47 yards down the sideline, putting Houston up big, 17-0, and looked unstoppable on the field. Temple managed to get three points on the board before the half but they were being beaten in all aspects in the first half.
In the third, Houston was still running riot in the game as Ward Jr. ran the ball in from 10 yards out to go up 24-3. Ward Jr. was hit hard as he went into the endzone, injuring his ribs, which would affect him the rest of the game. Ward Jr. was seen running less and giving it off to his running backs more. Temple did manage to score a touchdown in the game with a 13 yard pass from P.J. Walker to Robby Anderson 13 yards out to give them some life. However, it was too little too late.
Temple brought it to 24-13 with eleven minutes to go and their defense was stringing together three and outs. However, the Owls were never able to make big plays and struggled to manage the clock and turned the ball over twice on fourth down. Houston would walk out on top, 24-13, and earn a bid in a New Year’s Six Bowl, most likely the Peach Bowl.
Houston played dominant all game, as their defense was able to shut down Temple’s offense and put them away early. Greg Ward Jr. was a man on a mission today, having 196 total purpose yards and two touchdowns, both rushing, to help lead Houston to a 12-1 season with a bowl game awaiting them. The Cougars are a very solid team that have the chance to provide an upset in one of the New Year’s Six Bowl games, as it is very hard to stop their offense and get anything started against their defense.
Temple struggled early, with two turnovers that seemed to set the tone early. P.J. Walker did throw for 287 yards, but the lack of a running game kept Temple out of it. Their defense stepped up late, but couldn’t do enough early to shut down Houston’s high octane offense. Temple falls to 10-3 but will still play in a bowl game but have a chance to finish with 11 wins, which would be the most in school history. Temple’s magical season may have a blemish or two, but they can still finish off the year with a bang and give the seniors a well deserved win.