The Bearcats ended their season in heartbreaking fashion with a 40-37 loss to Tulsa on Friday night. UC jumped out to a 24-14 halftime lead, and led 34-24 with less than six minutes remaining before allowing Tulsa to charge back and tie the game with a field goal as time expired in regulation. The Golden Hurricane won the game with a James Flanders touchdown run after UC won the coin toss, elected to receive the ball first and then were only able to kick a field goal on their possession. Good riddance, 2016!
Here’s what the rest of the league got up to as the Bearcats lost yet again.
Memphis 48, No. 20 Houston 40
A week after shocking Louisville, the Houston Cougars fell to a resilient Memphis team. Memphis dominated the first quarter and withstood a vicious comeback from Houston that culminated in the Cougars taking a 44-41 lead with 1:29 remaining in the game. Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson connected with Anthony Miller for the winning touchdown with just 19 seconds remaining to give the Tigers the win. Ferguson threw for a career-high 409 yards with four touchdowns to help Memphis improve to 8-4 on the season.
Houston can blame itself for the sluggish start that cost it the win. They dominated most of the second half with senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. throwing for 489 yards and four touchdowns along with 65 yards rushing. Wideout Linell Bonner added career highs in receptions (17) and yards (235) in the losing effort.
No. 25 Navy 75, SMU 31
Navy ruined SMU and the AAC’s hopes of having another team qualify for a bowl game with a 75-31 drumming of the Mustangs. Navy dominated the time of possession and ran the ball 48 times for 496 yards and nine touchdowns. Navy actually had over 500 yards rushing before kneeling to end the game. Senior quarterback Will Worth ran for three touchdowns and threw for another. He now leads the FBS with 25 rushing touchdowns. The Midshipmen outscored SMU 47-7 in the second half to secure the win. They’ll face Temple in the AAC Championship this Saturday as they attempt to win their first conference championship in program history.
Temple 37, East Carolina 10
ECU wasn’t up for playing spoiler on Saturday night, falling 37-10 to the Temple Owls. The Owls secured their second consecutive East Division title and a chance to face Navy for the AAC Championship on Saturday. Temple fell to Houston in the first ever AAC Championship game last season when Greg Ward Jr. took home MVP honors rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ 24-13 win.
Senior Jahad Thomas was the star for Temple on Saturday. Thomas rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore Ryquell Armstead added two of his own to put the game away early for the Owls. Temple held ECU star wide receiver Zay Jones to his lowest receiving output of the season with just seven catches for 61 yards.
USF 48, UCF 31
USF improved to 10-2 behind 307 rushing yards and four touchdowns combined between Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack. UCF sophomore wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith did his part with seven receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough for the Knights to overcome this dominant USF team. USF ends the year with an identical conference record to Temple at 7-1, and a better overall record, but the Owls 46-30 victory over USF earlier in the season proved to be the tie-breaker that sends Temple to the championship game.
Tulane 38, Connecticut 13
Two blocked kicks and two interceptions set the tone for Tulane in a matchup of two of the worst offensive teams at the FBS level. Senior Tulane running back Lazedrick Thompson had a career high 23 carries with 108 yards and three touchdowns to propel the Green Wave to a win in his final game. Connecticut broke a scoreless streak that stretched over 12 quarters when Arkeel Newsome broke off a 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The Huskies ended the season on a six game losing streak with their last win coming against the Bearcats back in early October.
Final AAC Standings
Temple 9-3, 7-1
USF 10-2, 7-1
UCF 6-6, 4-4
UConn 3-9, 1-7
Cincinnati 4-8, 1-7
ECU 3-9, 1-7
Navy 9-2, 7-1
Tulsa 9-3, 6-2
Memphis 8-4, 4-3
Houston 9-3, 5-3
SMU 5-7, 3-5
Tulane 4-8, 1-7