The no. 23 Memphis Tigers will try to keep their undefeated record and spot in the top-25 intact when they travel to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Temple Owls. Kickoff is at noon EST on Saturday, October 12 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game can be seen on ESPN2.
According to our Week 7 college football odds, the Tigers are 6-point road favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 50.5 points.
Memphis opened the season with a home win over SEC opponent Ole Miss and haven’t looked back, starting the year 5-0. For what it’s worth, the Tigers haven’t exactly played a challenging schedule since. However, comfortable wins over the likes of South Alabama, Navy, and Louisiana-Monroe have impressed voters enough to put them in the top-25.
Of course, the rubber is about to meet the road, as the Tigers face a challenging AAC schedule from here on out. Memphis has two games with teams that are currently ranked in SMU and Cincinnati, not to mention challenging road games against the likes of Houston and South Florida. But first, the Tigers have to travel to Philadelphia to face Temple.
The Owls are also off to a good start and aren’t far from being 5-0 themselves. In fact, Temple already has a win over a ranked team this year, knocking off Maryland 20-17 last month. The Owls suffered a road loss to MAC opponent Buffalo the following week. But they’ve responded with wins over Georgia Tech and East Carolina. With two wins over power-conference teams, they won’t feel like much of an underdog against Memphis.
Much like Memphis, the Owls have a difficult AAC schedule ahead of them. Including this week’s game, Temple will play three games against teams that are currently ranked. That doesn’t include a showdown with reigning AAC champions Central Florida. However, after a promising 4-1 start to the season, the Owls will fancy themselves as contenders in the AAC, making this a critical game for both teams.
Despite sharing a conference for several years, this is the first meeting between Temple and Memphis since 2016. The two teams have split the previous four meetings, making this the de facto rubber match, at least until they meet again.
Even with five wins under their belt, I’m still unsure of how good Memphis is this season. Even the win over Ole Miss isn’t that impressive, especially since they only scored 15 points in that game. I think going on the road will be a challenge for them, especially against a Temple team that has a couple of impressive wins. I think the Owls can at least force a close, low-scoring game that will allow them to beat the 6-point spread.
Defensively, Temple has a chance to keep the Tigers under wraps. Memphis, to their credit, has been able to replace Darrell Henderson with redshirt freshman Kenneth Gainwell, who already has 620 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season. But the Owls will counter the Memphis rushing attack with one of the best linebacker units in the AAC. Temple has been able to keep both Maryland and Georgia Tech under four yards per rush. Even if they don’t shut down the Tigers, they’ll prevent the big play and force the Memphis offense to sustain long drives in order to find the end zone.
Admittedly, the Tigers have an experienced quarterback in Brady White who is capable of taking on a larger role if Memphis can’t overpower Temple with their running game. However, White is yet to see a competent defense this season outside of Ole Miss in the opener. In that game, he averaged just 5.5 yards per pass attempt and failed to throw a touchdown pass. I don’t mind giving him a pass on that game. But I’m also not sure he’ll be able to step up when the competition level goes up a notch or two.
On the other side of the ball, the Temple offense is by no means a juggernaut. But the Owls are usually methodical and efficient on offense. Re’Mahn Davis has over 500 yards rushing in five games, doing so against a schedule that has included two power-conference teams. Establishing the run will help the Owls control the ball and play the game at their tempo.
At quarterback, Temple figures to throw a curveball at Memphis after backup Todd Centeio played a few series last week in place of starter Anthony Russo. In Russo, the Owls have an experienced quarterback and competent passer while Centeio is more of a running threat who has impressed so much in practice that head coach Rod Carey wants to utilize his skills. Playing both quarterbacks last week against East Carolina seemed to be effective and now Memphis will have to be ready for both quarterbacks this week.
In the end, this game should be there for the taking in the fourth quarter, which is why I prefer the underdog, especially at home. To be fair, the Tigers probably have more overall talent. But Temple has a solid defense and enough talent on offense to make this a close game and at least beat the spread.