McCaskill rushes for 129 yards; Jones, Ownes, Sprewell grab interceptions
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Alton McCaskill rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns as No. 17 Houston methodically dispatched Temple 37-8 on Saturday to clinch a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
The Cougars (9-1, 7-0 American Athletic) have won nine straight games since an opening loss to Texas Tech to secure their first appearance in the conference championship game since winning the American Athletic in 2015. They will likely face No. 2 Cincinnati, which has to win one of its remaining two games — at home against SMU next Saturday and at East Carolina on Nov. 26, to join them in the Dec. 4 championship game.
Temple (3-7, 1-5) has lost five straight games, outscored 217-35 in that stretch.
The Houston defense, which had been blistered for 79 points in back-to-back wins over SMU and USF, got interceptions from cornerback Marcus Jones, safety Gervarrius Owens, and Gleson Sprewell while holding the Temple offense to just 10 first downs and 48 total plays in the game.
The Cougars offense was able to wear down the Owls in the second half after struggling to maintain momentum in building a 10-0 first-half lead. Running back Ta’Zhawn Henry capped the first drive of the second half with an 8-yard touchdown run. Five minutes and two drives later, McCaskill broke free for a 34-yard score, his second of the afternoon.
The Cougars rushed for 222 yards, the sixth team and fifth in a row that Temple has allowed more than 200 yards rushing.
Houston quarterback Clayton Tune was 20 of 33 for 210 yards and threw touchdown passes to Seth Green and Jaylen Erwin. Tune has not thrown an interception in his last five games.
Temple’s lone touchdown came on a 1-yard run by tailback Edward Saydee. Owls quarterback Justin Lynch was 11-for-24 passing for 119 yards and two interceptions.
COURTESY HOUSTON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS