PHILADELPHIA – Temple has paid the price for increased success in recent years in the form of head coaching departures. Rod Carey is the team's fourth coach since 2016 and looks to lead the Owls to a fifth straight bowl appearance beginning with Saturday's home date against Bucknell in the season opener for both squads.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: No line
After Matt Rhule left for Baylor in 2016 and Ed Foley finished that season out as Owls' coach, Geoff Collins took over on the sidelines only to bolt for Georgia Tech after two seasons at Temple. The next man up is Carey, who posted at least eight wins in five of his six seasons at Northern Illinois. Bucknell brings an up-tempo offense under new coach Dave Cecchini, who has chosen junior Logan Bitikofer as his team's starting quarterback against the Owls. "While all of our quarterbacks have stood out at times, our offense has been its most productive in both the spring and fall when Logan was our quarterback," said Cecchini, who hopes to improve upon Bucknell's 1-10 record last season.
ABOUT BUCKNELL (2018: 1-10)
The Bison expect to have a strong running game behind Chad Freshnock, Marquis Carter and Jared Cooper, all of whom saw action a season ago and will be counted upon to keep Bucknell's offense balanced against the talented Owls. "We have a wealth of talent coming back with Freshnock, Carter and Cooper," Cecchini said. "They all have game experience, and they all showed in the spring that they can be very effective in our system. The jury is still out on who will start. We're very happy with all three of them." Bucknell had two players chosen for the preseason All-Patriot League team this summer -- defensive lineman/linebacker Simeon Page and punter Alex Pechin.
ABOUT TEMPLE (2018: 8-5)
The Owls return quarterback Anthony Russo and four starters on the offensive line -- a unit that gave up the fewest sacks in the AAC a season ago. The team expects to use a variety of running backs, and it will be interesting to see how Carey replaces Ryquell Armstead (1,098 rushing yards, 13 TDs) as well as Ventell Bryant (51 catches, 690 yards). Temple won six of seven toward the end of last season before absorbing a 56-27 pounding at the hands of Duke in the Independence Bowl.
1. Since running for 5.8 yards per carry as a freshman, Owls fifth-year RB Jager Gardner has been held below 4.0 yards per carry in each of the last three seasons.
2. Russo had 14 interceptions (and 14 touchdowns) last season while throwing at least one pick every game but two.
3. Page, a junior, needs three sacks to join the top 10 all-time sack leaders at Bucknell.
PREDICTION: Temple 37, Bucknell 6