TAMPA, Fla. – A potentially special season for Temple is beginning to slip away. The Owls have allowed 108 points in losing their last two games and badly need to stop the bleeding Thursday night, when they visit South Florida in an American Athletic Conference game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Temple -1.5
Temple won five of its first six games, including a dominant 24-2 victory over Georgia Tech and two wins over ranked opponents, but a 45-21 setback at the hands of No. 23 SMU and a 63-21 pounding against Central Florida have left the Owls with a sour taste in their mouths. “Every game is important,” coach Rod Carey said. “That is not different with this game. We hit a bump in the road, certainly last week and the week before, and we have to get it corrected.” The Owls gave up 614 total yards against UCF and were outscored 35-0 in the second half, and now must contend with a USF team that has won three of its last four. The Bulls slammed East Carolina 45-20 in their most recent game with Jordan Cronkrite leading the way with 129 rushing yards and two scores.
ABOUT TEMPLE (5-3, 2-2 AAC)
The Owls got virtually nothing out of their running game against UCF, totaling 45 yards on 40 rushing attempts, with none of the seven players who recorded a carry averaging more than 2.7 yards per attempt. Branden Mack was a bright spot with five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, but quarterback Anthony Russo was held below 200 yards passing for the third time in four games. Re’Mahn Davis and Jager Gardner are tied for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns, while the rest of the team has a total of one rushing score.
ABOUT USF (4-4, 2-2)
The Bulls ran for 347 yards against East Carolina, and are averaging 43.8 points in their victories compared to 8.5 in losses. Jordan McCloud had thrown at least one interception in four straight games (six total) before an efficient performance (9-of-12, 102 yards, two touchdowns, zero INTs) against the Pirates. Cronkrite and McCloud are tied for the team lead with four rushing touchdowns, while backup quarterback Jah’Quez Evans provided a boost against ECU with six carries for 99 yards and a score.
1. This is the first contest of three straight at home for USF.
2. The Bulls lost their final six games last season, including 27-17 to the Owls - a game in which they led 17-0 at intermission.
3. Russo was sacked four times against UCF after getting sacked a total of once in his previous three games.
PREDICTION: Temple 33, USF 27