TEMPLE, after losing two of three, won a game it pretty much had to have, something the program hasn't always been able to do.
The Owls (9-2, 6-1 American) beat Memphis, which had lost two straight but was still ranked 21st in last week's College Football Playoff poll, on Saturday afternoon in South Philly, 31-12.
If they beat Connecticut (6-5, 4-3) - which just knocked off previously unbeaten Houston at home - on Saturday night they'll clinch the East title and a spot in the first AAC title game on Dec. 5. That would be at either Navy (9-1, 6-1) or Houston (10-1, 6-1), who meet Friday in Houston to decide the West. Navy would have a better conference record, Houston would have the better overall record.
They'd also win their division if South Florida (7-4, 5-2), which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker, loses at winless Central Florida.
Following a one-week hiatus, the Owls moved back into the rankings, at No. 25 (they are 24th in the coaches' poll). Navy is 16, Houston 21. Toledo (9-1) is 24. If the Rockets win the MAC, they'd be the only team that could keep an AAC winner out of either the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve or the Fiesta on Jan. 1. That automatic bid goes to the non-Power 5 conference champ who's ranked highest in the final CFP standings.
The Owls led by two after three quarters. A 13-yard run by tight end Kip Patton, his first career touchdown, with 14:54 left made it a nine-point game. Austin Jones hit a 35-yard field goal at 5:25 and P.J. Walker threw a 19-yard scoring pass to tight end Saledeem Major a little over two minutes later. It was also his first career TD.
The defense has allowed five TDs in as many home games. Three were by Notre Dame. This was the third time it held an opponent without an offensive TD, after giving up 84 points the two previous weeks.
It held the Tigers (8-3, 4-3) to 232 yards. The Owls had 461, 200 on the ground. Paxton Lynch, projected as a high NFL draft pick, passed for 156. The Owls had one penalty, on their opening drive.
Walker's two passing TDs gave him 50 in three seasons. That's a new program record, one more than Henry Burris (1993-96). Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the only FBS player to lead his team in tackles in every game this season, became the seventh in FBS to have 100-plus in four seasons.
Penn 34, Cornell 21
The Quakers (7-3, 6-1) finished in a three-way tie for the Ivy League title with Harvard and Dartmouth by winning their sixth straight. They scored on their first four possessions at Franklin Field.
Ray Priore, who's been on the staff as an assistant for the last 28 seasons, got a ring in his first year as the head coach.
It's the first time there's been a three-way tie since 1982, when the same three teams shared it. It was Dartmouth's first since 1996. Harvard got at least a piece for the third straight year, a program first. The Quakers last won in 2012. It's the first time they'd been a co-champ since 1988.
They were picked to finish sixth, after going 2-8 a year ago.
Cornell (1-9, 1-6), which scored the last 14 points, was coming off a 3-0 home win over 2-8 Columbia and former Penn coach Al Bagnoli.
Penn's Alek Torgersen threw for two TDs and ran for another. Justin Watson had nine catches for 133 yards and two scores. Both are back, Watson for two more years.
Michigan 28, Penn State 16
The Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) fell to a ranked team for the second straight week. This time it was to No. 14 Michigan (9-2, 6-1), at home.
They had 207 yards against a defense that's among the nation's best. Christian Hackenburg (13-for-31) threw for 137. He was sacked four times. Saquon Barkley had 56 of their 70 rushing yards (on 22 attempts) on their second play from scrimmage.
Still, it was a five-point game after Tyler Davis kicked an 18-yard field goal with eight minutes left. But a 55-yard kickoff return set up a clinching, five-play TD drive.
Penn State closes this week at Michigan State, which just won at Ohio State to move back into the playoff picture. Michigan can still win the East Division if it beats Ohio State at home and Penn State pulls off an upset.
The Lions ran nine plays inside the Michigan 10 without getting into the end zone. Two other drives ended in punts from the Wolverine 38 and 34.
James Madison 38, Villanova 29
The Wildcats (6-5, 5-3 Colonial) would have finished in a three-way tie for first with a win and made it into the FCS playoffs had they won at No. 10 JMU (10-2, 6-2), which had lost two straight since losing quarterbck Vad Lee.
Their last victory there was in 2009.
They rushed for 321 yards and held the Dukes to 323 total. But the hosts returned the opening kickoff for a TD, ran an interception back for a score and took a fumble recovery 77 yards for six points. The last one happened with 3:25 left and Villanova down three.
On Oct. 24 they lost at Towson by seven when Towson returned two picks for TDs. That was their only other loss in their last six games. A week ago they beat No. 9 Richmond at home by one on a last-minute TD.
Freshman Zach Bednarczyk threw for 132 yards and ran for 157, scoring twice. But he had four turnovers. Another fumble on a sack led to a three-play, 16-yard drive that put JMU up 17. Villanova scored with 56 seconds to go.
Michael Jack's Top 10
1. Clemson (11-0).
Beat Wake Forest, 33-13. Saturday: at South Carolina. South Carolina just lost at home to The Citadel. Clemson hasn't won in Columbia since 2007.
2. Alabama (10-1). Beat Charleston Southern, 56-6. Saturday: at Auburn. Remember what happened last time Tide played at Auburn?
3. Notre Dame (10-1). Beat Boston College, 19-16. Saturday: at Stanford. Beat Stanford last year at home by three. Have lost last three meetings at Stanford.
4. Iowa (11-0). Beat Purdue, 40-20. Friday: at Nebraska. Don't know what best win is. But if it wins Big Ten . . . Lost to Nebraska last year by three at home. Won by 21 in Lincoln in 2013.
5. Michigan State (10-1). Beat Ohio State, 17-14. Saturday: vs. Penn State. That one was for Ike Reese. Won at Penn State last year, 34-10.
6. Oklahoma (10-1). Beat TCU, 30-29. Saturday: at Oklahoma State. Lost at home to Oklahoma State last year in OT. Won in Stillwater in 2013.
7. Baylor (9-1). Beat Oklahoma State, 45-35. Friday: at TCU. Beat TCU at home last year, 61-58, after trailing by 21 in fourth quarter.
8. Ohio State (10-1). Lost to Michigan State, 17-14. Saturday: at Michigan. Has won nine of last 10 meetings. As Michigan's starting QB, Wolverine coach Jim Harbaugh went 2-0 against OSU.
9. Oklahoma State (10-1). Lost to Baylor, 45-35. Saturday: vs. Oklahoma. Hasn't beaten Oklahoma back-to-back since 2001-02.
10. Florida (10-1). Beat Florida Atlantic, 20-14. Saturday: vs. Florida State. How can you need OT to get past FAU at home? Florida State has won four of last five meetings.
Next five: Michigan (9-2), Stanford (9-2), Florida State (9-2), North Carolina (10-1) and Navy (9-1).
Michael Jack's Fraud Five
I know the Cougars had quarterback issues. Still shouldn't be losing at Connecticut. Must have been looking ahead to Navy.
South Carolina - Lost to FCS The Citadel. Then again, Gamecocks are 3-8, Bulldogs 8-3.
Ohio State - Had to lose sometime, I guess, maybe even at home. And Sparty is Sparty, even if it was a two-touchdown underdog and didn't have QB Connor Cook. This was just as much about the way it went down. Ask Ezekiel Elliott.
Louisiana State - At least now we know who the Tigers really are. Trailed 24-7 at half at Mississippi, en route to 21-point loss. Trailed 21-7 at half last week at home against Arkansas, en route to 17-point loss.
Oklahoma State - No sin losing to once-beaten Baylor at home, even if it scuttled playoff chances. But Bears were down to their third QB.
Dishonorable mention: Cincinnati. Preseason American fave shouldn't be trailing 51-3 at the half at South Florida.