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Temple wins American title; USF wonders what might have been

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Temple’s 34-10 victory over No. 19 Navy in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game on Saturday settled a few things. The most obvious was the Owls’ status as the top team in the league.

With that in mind, the South Florida Bulls have every right to claim they are 1a. Both USF and Temple beat the Midshipmen this season. Navy lost to the Bulls 52-45 in Tampa on October 29.

While Temple comes away with the American championship, they were one play away from not even qualifying for the game. University of Central Florida fans remember that play all too well.

UCF led Temple 25-20 on October 15 when the Owls took possession on their own 30 with only 32 seconds remaining and only one timeout. Phillip Walker connected with Keith Kirkwood for the winning score as time was expiring.

Without those heroics, it would have been USF playing Navy on Saturday. As it was, USF and Temple finished 7-1 in the conference. The Owls advanced to the championship by virtue of their 46-30 victory over the Bulls in Philadelphia on October 21.

The other clarifying act involves the bowl picture. Going into the game, Navy had the opportunity to muddle up the bowl picture for at least another week.

Had they won, Navy had a shot at the Cotton Bowl, but their status would not have been determined until next week’s rivalry game against Army. Games such as the Miami Beach Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl, the St. Petersburg Bowl and the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando could have been affected.

Now, the Western Michigan Broncos of the Mid-American Conference are expected to get the Cotton Bowl bid that Navy was seeking. The bowl assignments should be announced as scheduled tomorrow.

USF is likely to go to the Birmingham Bowl on December 29 while UCF is expected to receive a bid to play in Miami Beach on December 19.


Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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