Houston walked out victorious over Temple in the first ever AAC Championship Game
The Houston Cougars came out of the gate in the inaugural AAC Championship Game absolutely taking it to the Temple Owls. Greg Ward Jr. was running amuck all over the Owls defense, though he may not have been having a great deal throwing the football. After jumping out to a 24-3 lead early in the third quarter, this seemed like a game that was inevitably going to turn into a blowout in favor of Tom Herman’s Cougars. P.J. Walker and the Owls had different plans, though, after Ward’s second touchdown run of the day left him a bit banged up.
Ward’s injury caused Houston to take their foot off of the gas a bit and allowed the Owls to get things going. Walker and Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson connected and then the Owls got another field goal to climb within 11 points. However, Herman’s defense stepped up in a big way to make a couple of big stands and stops on fourth down late in the fourth quarter with Temple still trying to comeback.
The Owls’ final chance came down to a fourth down play where Walker mishandled the snap and was forced to try and scramble for the first down. He found a little room, but the Cougars defense swarmed right in front of the first-down marker and brought him down short of the line. Houston just ran the ball for two first downs of their own before letting the clock run out and officially capturing the AAC title.
Greg Ward Jr. was undoubtedly the AAC title game MVP, though he threw for under 100 yards. His 148 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns are more than enough to get him in some credit.
P.J. Walker was lackluster in the first half, but was the primary reason why the Owls were in the game at all in the second half. He finished with 287 yards passing, a passing touchdown, and 26 yards rushing.
Robby Anderson was big in the receiving game for Temple, finishing with 12 catches for 150 yards and a score.
The Houston Cougars were 5.5-point favorites coming into the AAC title game, which they covered. The two teams combined to hit well under the 54-point O/U line, though.
Both teams will now await their fates in terms of bowl games, though you can expect to see the Cougars in a New Year’s Six game after picking up the win in the conference championship game.