MEMPHIS, Tennessee (KTRK) -- Any conference championship hopes the Houston Cougars had Friday afternoon were quickly dashed after the Memphis Tigers defeated their rival, 52-31.
Houston started true freshman Clayton Tune at quarterback in place of the injured D'Eriq King. Tune finished the game completing 18 of 43 passes for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Meanwhile, star defensive tackle Ed Oliver managed to suit up for the Cougars, but did not play in the second half after re-aggravating his knee injury.
The Coogs struck first on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tune to wide receiver Terry Mark, giving Houston an early 7-0 lead.
Memphis answered Houston's early touchdown with 17 unanswered points, thanks to a 35-yard field goal by Riley Patterson and two touchdowns.
Midway through the second quarter, Tune rolled out and avoided two defenders to hit Keith Corbin in the back of the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
Moments later, Gelson Sprewell picked off Tigers quarterback Brady White, returning the interception 63 yards for the touchdown to give the Cougars a 21-17 lead heading into halftime.
Both teams exchanged scores in the third quarter, keeping the game deadlock at 31-31 heading into the fourth.
A 1-yard touchdown run by Patrick Taylor Jr. pushed Memphis ahead 38-31 with 12 minutes left in the game.
Unfortunately for Houston, without their defensive star, the Tigers tacked on two more scores en route to the win.
Memphis will now face Central Florida in the American Athletic Conference championship game next week.
UH Cougars lose after Memphis scores 21 points in 4th quarter