Well, this was an interesting week, huh? So close and yet so far.
1. Temple is no lock for the AAC East crown anymore, despite another win.
In large part because they now face a South Florida team that is probably going bowling thanks to their defense. They held the East Carolina Pirates to twenty-nine yards of offense in the first half, and only 220 for the game. The Bulls have now won four of their last five, with the lone loss to a Navy team that they led as late as halfway through the fourth quarter.
This is a team that somehow managed to get blown out by Maryland and nearly beat Memphis in consecutive weeks, so they're still learning. That said, they might be the best team outside the top four and as hard as their remaining schedule might be, they are just a win against lowly UCF from being bowl eligible. For a team that's gone 9-27 in their previous three seasons and not been bowling since 2010, that's a big deal.
2. Memphis isn't out of the AAC West race, despite their loss.
But it sure got a whole hell of a lot harder after they met a blue and gold defensive buzzsaw.
Memphis' defense and the 29.4 ppg it was allowing to FBS opponents has been suspect all season long. They were able to do more than enough on offense, even against strong opposing offenses like Tulsa, Bowling Green and Cincinnati, to get the win. This week, they met a formidable defensive opponent (and a unique triple-option offense) and got stonewalled.
Paxton Lynch threw an ugly duckling of an interception, his second of the season. He looked off his rhythm all game, and before you knew it a 17-17 game was a 48-20 blowout, in part because triple-option-heavy Navy did this on the next play after the Tiger touchdown that produced the 17-17 tie.
Uh oh. Memphis struggling. Go Navy! pic.twitter.com/pXhUMprp4f— Underdog Dynasty (@underdogdynasty) November 8, 2015
See?! Navy can pass. Anyway, Houston probably still has the inside track since they get both Memphis and Navy at home, but nothing is for certain as the Cougars scraped by the Bearcats. The AAC now needs Houston to stay spotless for an NY6 bowl slot, but don't give up hope just yet.
3. What the hell happened to Tulane?
Their dominant defensive performance in a win over UCF seemed like a sign of good things to come. Yeah, they gave up 31 points, but most of that was the second-string defense. They then had to face a murderer's row of Temple, Houston, Navy and Memphis (with the last two on the road), and it went as you might expect: four losses by an average score of 40-11.
So what do they do this week? They return home to face UConn, hold the Huskies offense to 227 yards, intercept a pass, block a field goal, give up zero points... and still lose. That was in large part due to Tanner Lee, who played well enough to have his team trailing only 7-3 with eight and a half minutes left before halftime - and then went 5-for-23 for 46 yards in the second half.
The season isn't entirely lost, as they now have back-to-back games that are at least winnable against Army and SMU. But for a team that was hoping for an outside crack at a bowl game, and ugly loss like today stings a little extra.