There were four other games in the American last weekend besides USF-Memphis. Here’s what you missed, starting with the biggest game of the weekend in Annapolis.
Navy 42, Tulsa 40
Once again Navy’s meat grinder of an offense wore down an opponent, outscored them, and played keep away at the end of the game. Will Worth ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns, and completed six of eight passes for 111 yards and a fourth TD. Dishan Romine and Toneo Gulley combined for another 172 yards rushing on just 11 total carries.
For Tulsa, Dane Evans became the Golden Hurricane’s all-time leading passer, throwing for 369 yards and four touchdowns. This back and forth game turned in the Midshipmen’s favor in the middle of the fourth quarter. Trailing 35-27, Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery made a gutsy call to go for it on 4th and 8 from the Navy 45-yard line, and it paid off when Evans completed a 44-yard pass to Justin Hobbs. Evans ran it in three plays later. Montgomery went for two to tie the game, but came up empty. When Navy got the ball back, they put together a nice 69-yard drive in five plays to take a 42-33 lead. Against a team like that, trailing by two scores with time running down is death. Tulsa scored one more touchdown, but Navy held the ball for the last 5:30 of the game.
Navy now has tiebreakers on both of its pursuers in the West Division, and can wrap up the division title with either a win at East Carolina next week or a win at SMU Thanksgiving weekend.
UCF 24, Cincinnati 3
Well, congratulations to the Knights on becoming bowl eligible. I thought UCF was ripe for improvement this year, figuring they had downed tools against George O’Leary and would be more motivated to play for a coach who wouldn’t yell ethnic slurs at them. At 6-4, they’re ahead of even the schedule I thought they’d be on. They got some help from the Bearcats Saturday, collecting three turnovers and blocking a Sam Geraci punt for a touchdown.
UCF’s offense still isn’t quite clicking, but they got a bit of a breakout game from true freshman Jawon Hamilton, who gained 81 yards on 17 carries. McKenzie Milton mostly threw short passes, completing 22 of 34 for 150 yards and a touchdown. It’s a good thing they got their sixth win now, since their last two opponents are Tulsa and USF. Certainly they’ll get much tougher tests from them than they did from Cincinnati, who is giving off strong quit vibes on their season.
SMU 55, East Carolina 31
But as much as Cincinnati looks like they’ve given up, East Carolina may have packed it in even more. (This doesn’t even factor in UConn, who had last week off but is also in total disarray.)
The story of this game was turnovers - ECU had five to SMU’s zero, and the Mustangs turned them into 28 points. ECU tried alternating between Philip Nelson and Gardner Minshew at quarterback to no avail. In fact, both of them threw pick-sixes to SMU’s Horace Richardson.
Ben Hicks threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns for SMU. Courtland Sutton, who has improved this season but maybe not had the huge breakout year that some people expected, went off for 166 receiving yards and two scores. Meanwhile, Ke’Mon Freeman and Braeden West each ran for over 100 yards. Good news USF fans, you’re facing another team that can run the ball pretty well. That should go great on Saturday.
Houston 30, Tulane 18
So, if you have any remaining hope of Temple not winning the East Division, it probably comes down to Tulane beating them in New Orleans on Saturday. Based on how they played against Houston, it’s not as impossible as it seems. The Green Wave’s defense did a very good job on the Cougars, limiting them to only 66 rushing yards and 287 overall. Houston had to punt 11 times, but one of those punts opened the scoring on maybe the dumbest play of the year in the league.
Yes, a muffed punt that ended up rolling all the way into the end zone, where Houston’s Jeremy Winchester fell on it for a touchdown. Tulane also gave Houston their last two points when they committed a face mask penalty in their own end zone for a safety. Other than that, Tulane played pretty well. Even Glen Cuiellette was greatly improved, throwing for 241 yards and two TDs. Root like crazy for the Green Wave to knock off Temple Saturday afternoon. Because after this past weekend, ECU sure as hell isn’t going to get it done.