Week 8 Results
Temple 46 USF 30
UCF 24 UCONN 16
No. 24 Navy 42 Memphis 28
Tulsa 50 Tulane 27
SMU 38 No. 11 Houston 16
Cincinnati 31 East Carolina 19
SMU stuns No. 11 Houston in program win for Morris, Mustangs
Prior to Saturday, second-year SMU coach Chad Morris was 4-14 with victories over North Texas (2), Tulane, and Liberty and the Mustangs entered their home game with No. 11 Houston (6-2, 3-2) as more than a three-touchdown underdog.
However, Tom Herman’s club—which was looking to stay in the thick of the AAC West hunt—suffered a decisive 38-16 blowout loss in Dallas and fell completely out of this week’s AP Poll. The Cougars did remain ranked 24th in the Coaches’ Poll.
Following a heartbreaking 43-40 overtime loss at Tulsa last week, the Ponies (3-4, 1-2) built a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.
The win was SMU’s first over a ranked opponent since it took down No. 20 TCU, 40-33, in overtime in 2011.
There were a few things that stood out about the program-changing win.
One was the tremendous effort from the SMU defense, which limited Greg Ward, Jr. and the Cougars’ potent attack to just over 300 yards of offense. The Mustangs produced seven sacks of the talented signal-caller.
Chad Morris’ club outgained UH, 178-62, on the ground and received another solid performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Hicks. Hicks, a native of Waco, TX, finished 16-of-31 for 228 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Through the first five games, Hicks had really struggled to protect the football (4 TD, 9 INT). However, he’s thrown for five scores and not been picked off the last two weeks.
Temple takes down USF, now team to beat in the East
Willie Taggart and USF took a three-game win streak to Philadelphia. The Bulls’ “Gulf Coast” offense had been lighting up opposing defenses dating back to the end of last season and they had established themselves as the team beat.
However, Temple (5-3, 3-1)—last year’s East Division champ—had something to say about that.
Matt Rhule has established a culture of winning within the Temple program and the Owls were able to build on the momentum of last week’s 26-25 victory at UCF in which they rallied from a 25-7 second quarter deficit.
The Bulls (6-2, 3-1) came into the game boasting a couple of very impressive offensive streaks. They had put up 35 or more points in 11 straight games while having rushed for 200-plus yards in 12 consecutive contests. Both of those streaks came to an end against Temple, as the Owls limited USF to 352 yards of total offense—including 165 on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Owls’ offense piled up 528 yards and 319 of those were on the ground. Ryquell Armstead ran for 210 yards on just 20 carries and had a 76-yard touchdown jaunt that gave his team a 17-13 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.
After an up and down effort at UCF, Phillip Walker was solid. The veteran quarterback went 14-of-21 for 209 yards and a score while not throwing an interception.
Gunner Kiel will be the Bearcats’ starting quarterback moving forward
After missing spring practice among other things, highly-touted senior quarterback Gunner Kiel—who had been the Bearcats’ primary starter for most of the last two seasons during which he threw for more than 6,000 yards and 50 touchdowns—found himself at third on the depth chart.
With the offense unable to consistently produce under Hayden Moore and Ross Trail, UC found itself at 3-3 overall and 0-3 in the American at the mid-point of the season.
Seeking answers and a second half turnaround, Kiel’s fellow seniors urged fourth-year coach Tommy Tuberville to give the talented passer a shot.
The veteran head coach elected to and it was a decision that he did not regret.
While Kiel wasn’t exactly playing a premier defense and ECU’s defense generates less pressure than any other defense in the nation (just one sack all season!), the former Notre Dame commit was about as sharp as one could expect given his lack of time since last season. He did miss on some throws, but concluded his first start of 2016 by completing 23 of 40 attempts for 348 yards and four scores without an interception.
Now, let’s see how the veteran quarterback and the Bearcats handle what promises to be a much more stiff challenge when they travel to Temple for a game with the first-place Owls.