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State of the AAC: Memphis falls from power in 30-28 defeat

Memphis suffered a 30-28 loss to Temple in week seven of conference play. This leave SMU as the only team in the AAC to remain undefeated. | File photo

The calamity of the American Athletic Conference in 2019 continued in Week 7, as Temple bested previously undefeated Memphis 30-28, leaving No. 19 SMU as the sole remaining undefeated team in the conference.

The Owls (5-1, 2-0) tallied their second defeat over a ranked opponent Saturday with drama, as a Tigers’ (5-1, 1-1) completion on fourth down with two minutes to go was overturned, sealing the victory in Philadelphia.

Temple now sits atop the AAC East with No. 21 Cincinnati (5-1, 2-0) as the season hits the midway point. Memphis outgained the hosts 491 yards to 456 but four turnovers, including three in the first half, led to 16 Temple points.

The Owls benefited from a balanced offense of 263 yards in the air and 193 on the ground. Junior receiver Branden Mack topped all receivers with 125 yards on nine receptions, including one touchdown. This was Mack’s second career 100-yard outing.

The Tigers’ 37th-best running offense averages 200 yards per game but were held well below the season average to just 128 yards, their second lowest of the season.

Memphis, now fourth in the AAC West, will battle Tulane (5-1, 2-0) on Saturday while Temple will look to earn back-to-back Top-25 victories in a journey to Dallas on Saturday against SMU (6-0, 2-0). A victory would likely earn the Owls a ranking themselves, as they sit at No. 28.

Tulane, sitting just a spot out of the Top-25, demolished UConn (1-5, 0-3) on Saturday 49-7, stretching its win streak to four straight. The Green Wave racked up a season-high 634 yards while conceding just 234.

Senior quarterback Justin McMillan surpassed 1,000 yards for the season as he threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, completing 18 of 24 attempts. Junior Keon Howard also contributed in the air, going 8-for-10 for 92 yards and a touchdown of his own. Both added touchdowns on the ground as well.

UConn has now lost five straight games since opening the season with a 24-21 victory over FCS Wagner, while Tulane’s 5-1 start is its best since 1998.

UConn will host Houston (2-4, 0-2) on Saturday as the two fight for their first conference win.

Navy (4-1, 2-1), backed by the nation’s best running game, earned its second straight win after handling Tulsa (2-4, 0-2) 45-17 Saturday night. The Midshipmen earned just 35 yards in the air, but with such a dominant rush, it was no issue as they recorded 388 yards on the ground.

Led by the conference’s No. 2 rusher senior Malcolm Perry, who earned 218 yards and three touchdowns, Navy handed Tulsa its second straight loss. Perry has now recorded 12 touchdowns this season, the fourth most in FBS.

The Golden Hurricanes have allowed at least 40 points in three games this season, landing them in the bottom 30 of points against per game with 32.2.

Tulsa continues a tough slate as it heads to Cincinnati on Saturday before battling Memphis, Tulane and UCF successively. Navy will host USF (3-3, 1-1), who earned a solid 27-23 victory over BYU over the weekend.

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