The Connecticut Huskies (6-5, 4-3) will travel to face another ranked foe as they take on the Temple Owls (9-2, 6-1), ranked #25 in the CFP rankings and the AP poll, in an AAC East matchup Saturday night. Temple has won three of the last four meetings, including a 36-10 victory on the road as a 6 point favorite on September 27, 2014 in the most recent matchup.
Connecticut knocked #19 Houston from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 20-17 home win last week; it was their third straight victory. Temple knocked off #21 Memphis 31-12 at home last week to bounce back from a loss to South Florida. Kickoff from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is set for 7:00 pm ET and will be televised on ESPNU. Temple is currently favored by 11.5 points with the over/under set at 39 points in this contest.
Connecticut kept Houston in check for most of the game as they led 13-3 after three quarters; the Huskies held off a fourth quarter rally to get the upset victory. The Huskies were narrowly outgained 318-315 but dominated the time of possession battle 34:59 to 25:01 in the game. Both teams finished with 13 first downs in the game but Connecticut came up big by forcing four turnovers in the game while not committing a turnover on offense. The Huskies did allow a kick return for a score in the fourth quarter but hung on.
The Huskies are currently sitting 91st in the nation in passing offense (199.7 yards) and 108th in rushing (135.1 yards) per game on the season. Connecticut averages 19.1 points per game, which has them tied for 117th in scoring offense but they’ve been very good defensively; they are 19th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 19.1 points per game. Bryant Shirreffs has connected on 158 of 262 passes for 1,907 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Tim Boyle (19 of 40, 160 yards, INT) is the backup should Shirreffs get knocked out or need to be looked at for a moment. The Huskies average just 3.6 yards per carry in the ground game; Arkeel Newsome leads the team with 161 carries for 759 yards and a team high six scores while Shirreffs (428 yards, 3 TD) and Ron Johnson (84 carries, 209 yards, 4 TD) are struggling to do much on the ground. Noel Thomas leads the team with 49 receptions for 656 yards and a score while Tyraiq Beals (22 receptions, 262 yards, 2 TD) is a capable second target; Newsome (38 grabs, 426 yards, 2 TD) is a good safety valve out of the backfield while Alec Bloom (18 grabs, 279 yards, TD) is a capable receiver as well. Bobby Puyol is a strange story at kicker; he’s hit 14 of 16 field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards but is 20 of 23 on extra points this season.
Temple kept Memphis out of the end zone in their win over the Tigers; that allowed them to keep Memphis at bay before pulling away in the fourth quarter. The Owls outscored the Tigers 17-0 in the final quarter to pick up the victory. Temple outgained Memphis 461-232, picked up 25 first downs while allowing 13 and held the ball for 34:22 to the Tigers’ 25:38 in the contest. The Owls managed to overcome the fact that they committed a pair of turnovers while failing to record a takeaway in the contest.
The Owls continue to ride good defense and turnovers to set up short fields as their offense is decidedly mediocre this season. Temple is tied for 74th in the nation in passing offense (214.1 yards) and tied for 86th in rushing offense as they average 158 yards per game. The Owls score 32.7 points per game and are 21st in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 20.2 points per contest. P.J. Walker has completed 178 of 318 passes for 2,290 yards with 17 touchdown passes and six picks but he’s averaging 7.2 yards per pass attempt. Jahad Thomas is a force on the ground as he has carried the ball 229 times for 1,069 yards and 15 scores while ranking third on the team with 20 catches for 204 yards and a score. After Thomas, the drop-off in the run game is noticeable as the rest of the team has run the ball 189 times for 669 yards and seven scores; Ryquell Armstead is next in line with 41 carries for 161 yards and two scores. Robby Anderson leads the Owls with 46 catches for 681 yards and six touchdowns while Ventell Bryant is a solid target with 35 grabs for 499 yards and three touchdowns. Austin Jones has nailed 40 of 41 extra points and 16 of 21 field goal attempts on the year with a long of 41 yards.
Connecticut is 4-1 ATS in their last five after throwing for less than 170 yards in their last game.
This one will be a tough matchup with solid defense for both teams making things happen. Temple tends to cash in more of their takeaways and capitalize on field position with regularity. Connecticut needs to have Shirreffs in the mix here but his status is up in the air and the team hasn’t had a lot of success against Boyle. Temple should win the game straight up but in a low scoring affair, double digits may be too many points to give here.