TAMPA, Fla. -- Late in the first quarter of Saturday night's game against USF at Raymond James Stadium, Temple appeared on its way to clinching the American Conference East Division title.
The Owls controlled the ball and put together two long drives, and had a 7-0 lead when Jahad Thomas scored a touchdown with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
Nine minutes later, it all vanished.
The Bulls scored on four straight possessions, shocking the usually reliable Temple defense with a 68-yard touchdown pass, a 57-yard touchdown run, and another 42-yard run that set up a 20-yard scoring pass. Throw in a P.J. Walker interception that gave USF the ball at the Temple 5, which set up another score, and the Owls were suddenly trailing 28-10.
Temple punched back in the third quarter, getting as close as 31-20, but failed to convert several drives into USF territory, and ultimately succumbed to the Bulls' dynamic trio of quarterback Quinton Flowers (230 yards passing, 90 yards rushing), tailback Marlon Mack (230 yards rushing), and wide receiver Rodney Adams (147 yards receiving).
With the victory, USF stayed alive in the hunt for the East Division title, though the Owls still control their own destiny. They'll play in the first-ever AAC Championship Game if they can beat Memphis and UConn in their final two games. But a loss in either one of those games could lift USF into first place. And if the Owls lose both, there's even a chance that Cincinnati or UConn could slip away with the title.
But first the Owls have to correct the mistakes that allowed the Bulls to roll to victory on Saturday night.
Watch Coach Matt Rhule's postgame press conference here.