No. 24 Memphis ends No. 15 SMU's unbeaten season in 54-48 win

Memphis' <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/286961/" data-ylk="slk:Antonio Gibson">Antonio Gibson</a> scored three touchdowns three different ways on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Memphis' Antonio Gibson scored three touchdowns three different ways on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

SMU’s run among the unbeaten teams in college football is over.

No. 24 Memphis took down the No. 15 Mustangs 54-48 Saturday night with the help of three touchdowns in three different ways from wide receiver Antonio Gibson.

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Gibson’s first touchdown came on a 50-yard touchdown pass from QB Brady White in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 20-14 lead. Memphis took a 23-17 lead into halftime and Gibson extended that lead to 13 with a 97-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter.

His third touchdown was the most impressive. He scored a 78-yard rushing touchdown with fewer than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter to put Memphis up 54-32. It looked like it came straight from a video game.

Memphis' Antonio Gibson would not be stopped. (via ABC)
Memphis' Antonio Gibson would not be stopped. (via ABC)

Gibson ended the game with 97 rushing yards, 130 receiving yards and 159 kickoff return yards.

The Mustangs scored twice after his rushing touchdown to make the game close, but SMU’s onside kick with 2:05 left was recovered by Memphis and the Tigers were simply able to run out the clock to seal the win.

White threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. SMU QB Shane Buechele was 34-of-54 passing for 456 yards and three touchdowns.

The AAC is wild

SMU was the favorite to make a New Year’s Six bowl game as the top team from the Group of Five conferences entering the weekend. With SMU’s loss, that favorite status now goes to Memphis. Or Cincinnati. The AAC is an incredibly fun conference in 2019.

The No. 17 Bearcats escaped with a 46-43 win at East Carolina on Saturday night thanks to a field goal as time expired. Cincinnati, at 8-1 overall, leads the AAC East division while 8-1 Memphis now leads the AAC West division thanks to wins over both SMU and Navy.

That means there’s a decent chance that Memphis and Cincinnati could find themselves playing each other in consecutive weeks. The two teams are set to meet on Nov. 29 to end the regular season, a week before the AAC title game.

That’s not the best news for the AAC’s hopes for a New Year’s Six bowl game. It’s easy to see how Boise State could sneak in and steal the New Year’s Six spot for the Group of Five teams if Cincy and Memphis split their back-to-back matchups. If they don’t play each other in back-to-back games, that means either or both teams lost somewhere else down the road. That would play into Boise State’s hands too.

It’s not a bad problem to have, of course. The AAC wants multiple teams in the thick of the New Year’s Six conversation. But it would also have liked an undefeated SMU getting a berth like UCF did in 2017 and 2018.

That’s not happening now. There will be no unbeaten AAC team for a third season in a row.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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