Memphis clinched bowl eligibility and kept pace with the leaders in the American with their win over Temple Friday night. The Tigers and their top-15 ranked defense were able to keep a bottle on Temple all game in their 16-13 victory over the Owls.
There's nothing nice to say about this game, structurally. The offenses were responsible for more than the requisite number of mistakes you'd expect from the American. What follows is a recap of the game that edits out the embarrassing number of dropped passes, missed tackles and blocks, and generally sloppy play. I did that for you. Each team's defense deserves credit for coming up with a solid performance, but these were offenses (more-so Temple) that appeared to protest the very idea of success.
Temple led 10-0 early. They opened the scoring with a 43-yard Austin Jones field goal, and followed that with a 75-yard Kenneth Harper touchdown run. It looked like Temple might have solved the problems that had plagued them earlier in the season. Spoiler Alert: They did not return to the box score until 2:46 remained in the fourth quarter.
Conversely, the second quarter belonged to Memphis. Paxton Lynch and the Tigers' offense were able to move in to field goal range for a 42-yard Jake Elliott field goal, and subsequently a 17-yard touchdown pass with just under 4 remaining until halftime.
The defenses stayed stingy in the second half, with Memphis adding a 27-yard field goal off of a Temple turnover that put them in scoring position. Temple managed to knot it up despite the Memphis defense getting in P.J. Walker's face nearly every play.
It was a game that, in many ways, looked like neither team had interest in winning. However, Memphis put together a bludgeoning drive that ran the final 2:46 off the clock to put them in position for a game-winning 31-yard Jones field goal.
The win puts Memphis in great position. The final three games on their agenda are at Tulane, and home versus South Florida and UConn. With only one conference loss and three favorable opponents remaining, they could easily find themselves in a tie for the American title.
Temple will need to find bowl eligibility elsewhere. They are 5-4 on the season now with their final three bringing them to Penn State, home versus Cincinnati, and a road trip to Tulane to close the season.
For those of you who sat through this game, I applaud you. Or, I think you should find help. I'm not quite sure.