TEMPLE OPENS HOME CONFERENCE SLATE vs HOUSTON
Following a tough road battle last Thursday, Temple looks to take advantage of the long week as the Owls host their conference home opener against West Division opponent Houston, set to kickoff at 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday and air nationally on ESPNU.
This past week, Temple traveled down south to face division rival No. 21 USF, falling to the undefeated Bulls in a 43-7 loss. The Owls suffered on all fronts, as the offense tried out a trio of quarterbacks in every attempt to find a foothold against the USF front seven. Defensively, Temple similarly struggled as the Bulls’ ground game refused to slow down, churning up 312 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
The lone highlight came from senior DE Jacob Martin, who forced a fumble on USF QB Quinton Flowers, scooped the ball and sprinted 44 yards into the endzone for Temple’s only score of the night.
Moving forward, the Owls aim to shake off the loss and bounce back with a conference victory over Houston. Offensively, Temple will have options under center as all three quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt junior Frank Nutile and true freshman Todd Centeio — gained experience on the road. The Owls also own a veteran stable of tailbacks, led by junior Ryquell Armstead, and may look to the ground game for answers against the Cougars.
As for Houston, a 16-game home win streak and 2-0 start under new head coach Major Applewhite were ruined last week in a close, 27-24 loss to Texas Tech. In the game, the Cougars utilized a pair of quarterbacks in Kyle Allen and Kyle Postma, combining for 317 yards on 32-of-52 for two scores and two interceptions. The Houston defense, however, surrendered 521 total yards to the Red Raiders, a majority of which came through the air (321 yards).
Last time vs. Houston
Temple and Houston last met in December 2015, as the two programs battled in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship game at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas. After taking an early lead, the Cougars managed to fend off the Owls down the stretch to seal a 24-13 victory. Led by dual-threat QB Greg Ward, Jr., Houston surged to a 24-3 advantage through two-and-a-half quarters. The Owls, headed by then-juniors QB Phillip Walker and RB Jahad Thomas, slowly chipped away at the deficit for the remainder of the matchup, scoring their only touchdown on the day on Walker 13-yard touchdown pass to WR Robby Anderson. The Houston defense was able to corral the Owls, taking advantage of their home field presence to finish off Temple down the stretch and bring home the win.
Current Owls kicker Austin Jones knocked through two fields goals in the matchup, setting up an opportunity for Temple to stay competitive throughout the game.
A Pair of Firsts
When the Big East transformed into the American Athletic Conference in 2014, which two programs were asked to open up inter-conference play for the first time? Temple and Houston. And just a year later, when The American gained enough teams for a title game, which two programs found themselves competing in the championship matchup? You guessed it…Temple and Houston.
A rivalry in the making
The head coaches on opposing sidelines this Saturday won’t shake hands for the first time following the game’s conclusion. Temple’s Geoff Collins and Houston’s Major Applewhite worked together before, on Alabama’s 2007 staff under Nick Saban. Collins served as director of player personnel, and Applewhite was the offensive coordinator.
The Ol’ Fumblerooski
A highlight in Temple’s recent loss to USF came on defense, as the unit forced and recovered a pair of fumbles from the Bulls. With those two, the Owls own four on the year and surge to 15th nationally and second in the conference. Senior DE Jacob Martin deserves a shoutout all on his own, as he forced the fumble, scooped the ball and out-ran USF 44 yards for a touchdown. The score marked the first defensive TD since Romond Deloatch recovered a fumble last season vs. SMU, taking it 8 yards for the score.
The Owls take to the road again for yet another conference matchup, traveling south to Greenville, N.C., to face division opponent East Carolina on Saturday, October 7.