GREENVILLE, N.C. – Temple is coming off one of its most dominant defensive performances in recent memory and aims for an encore performance Thursday when it visits East Carolina in an American Athletic Conference game. The Owls rolled over Georgia Tech 24-2 last week and have given up a total of 31 points in their three victories this season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Temple -11.5
Temple limited Georgia Tech to 2-of-14 third-down conversions and 305 total yards while forcing three turnovers, including a 74-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Benny Walls. "Defense wins championships," Walls told reporters. "Whenever you hold a team off the scoreboard, you know that you have a chance. And I think we've been able to show that we have a really good defense." The Owls also received solid production from Re'Mahn Davis, who had 135 rushing yards and two scores, but they will be challenged by a Pirates' defense that gave up only 2.1 yards per carry against Old Dominion last week. East Carolina won that game 24-21 and enters Thursday's affair seeking its first three-game winning streak since 2014.
ABOUT TEMPLE (3-1, 0-0 American)
Anthony Russo has watched his completion percentage decline in every game this season with the most recent performance (9-of-22 versus Georgia Tech) particularly disappointing for the junior signal-caller. Davis has notched a team-high 346 rushing yards and had nearly as many carries against the Yellow Jackets (29) as he had in the season's first three games (31). The team has a solid trio of wide receivers led by Jadan Blue (team highs of 27 catches and 402 yards), while Isaiah Wright paces the squad with three receiving TDs.
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (3-2, 0-1)
Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers had a bizarre game against Old Dominion, completing 8-of-21 passes but accumulating 202 yards on those eight completions, including a pair of touchdown passes. Demetrius Mauney leads the team with 199 rushing yards but has yet to find the end zone on any of his 45 carries this season. Blake Proehl has registered 20 catches - nobody else on the team has more than 11 - and has two of the team's four receiving touchdowns, with tight end Anthony Watley accounting for the other two.
1. Owls senior RB Jager Gardner set a season high with 18 carries against Georgia Tech, but his 3.8 yards per carry marked a season low.
2. Russo was 21-of-25 for 254 yards with four TD passes in last season's 49-6 victory over the Pirates.
3. ECU has 13 players with at least one reception of 10-plus yards this season.
PREDICTION: Temple 24, East Carolina 17