Greg Ward Jr. ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and Houston defeated No. 22 Temple, 24-13, in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship game Saturday at Houston.
The victory makes Houston, No. 19 in the College Football Playoff ranking, the Group of Five’s major bowl representative, earning the Cougars a trip to either the Peach Bowl or Fiesta Bowl. First-year Coach Tom Herman helped the Cougars (12-1) to their second 12-win season and first since they went 13-1 in 2011 under former coach Kevin Sumlin. Temple is 10-3.
Aztecs win MWC
Donny Hageman kicked a 46-yard field goal with 5:10 to go and San Diego State beat Air Force, 27-24, at San Diego to win the Mountain West Conference championship game, the Aztecs’ first outright title since they won the Western Athletic Conference 1986. Redshirt freshman Christian Chapman threw for 203 yards and a touchdown for the Aztecs (10-3), who won their ninth straight game and could be headed for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve in Honolulu. Air Force is 8-5.
Texas denies Baylor
Tyrone Swoopes threw for 151 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score in his first Texas start since the opener, and the Longhorns defeated No. 12 Baylor, 23-17, in a game marred by an early bench-clearing scuffle to eliminate the Bears from Sugar Bowl contention. Host Baylor (9-3, 6-3) was in line to be the Big 12’s representative in the Sugar Bowl, with conference champion Oklahoma likely headed to the College Football Playoff. Texas finished 4-7,4-5.
Wide receiver Cody Cook led Kansas State to a pair of touchdowns as the emergency quarterback in place of injured Joe Hubener, Morgan Burns returned a kickoff 97 yards for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats (6-6, 3-5 Big 12) beat West Virginia, 24-23, at Manhattan, Kan., to become bowl-eligible.
C-USA title game
Brandon Doughty threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns, two to Taywan Taylor, and Western Kentucky rallied past Southern Mississippi, 45-28, in the Conference USA championship game at Bowling Green, Ky. The Hilltoppers (11-2) trailed 21-7 in the second quarter and 28-21 in the third before scoring 24 unanswered points. Southern Mississippi is 9-4.
Arkansas State wins
Fredi Knighten threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score to lead Arkansas State to a Sun Belt Conference title-clinching 55-17 win over Texas State at Jonesboro, Ark. Michael Gordon ran for 148 yards, and Money Hunter returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown for Arkansas State (9-3, 8-0).
Meyer refutes report
Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer let it be known he has no interest in joining the Cleveland Browns amid speculation the NFL franchise is pursuing him. Meyer, through a spokesman, told the Columbus Dispatch, “I am proud and honored to be the head football coach at the Ohio State University. I have no interest whatsoever in any other position . . .” A recent report from ChatSports.com claimed the Browns, currently 2-9 under Coach Mike Pettine, are preparing an offer that would make Meyer the highest-paid coach in NFL history and give him an ownership stake in the team.
Rutgers has an agreement with Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash to become the Scarlet Knights’ coach, replacing Kyle Flood, who was fired after a scandal-scarred 4-8 season.
North Carolina agreed to terms on a seven-year contract with Coach Larry Fedora that would run through the 2022 season. Fedora coached the Tar Heels to the ACC title game in his fourth season.
Syracuse hired Bowling Green Coach Dino Babers to be its new coach, a day after the Falcons won the Mid-American Conference title game.
Nick Arbuckle threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns and Georgia State defeated rival Georgia Southern, 34-7, to become bowl eligible for the first time in school history. The wins by the Panthers (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference) and Kansas State mean no more than three 5-7 will receive bowl bids.
North Texas agreed to make North Carolina offensive coordinator Seth Littrell its head coach.