As part of TheUConnBlog's 2010 Season Preview Month-ish, we're counting down the days to the UConn football team's opener against Michigan. Today, we look at the Huskies' third opponent: the Temple Owls. You can read all our Football Preview Month-ish posts here.
You remember Temple right? They're terrible at football. The Big East showed them the door when UConn showed up and it seemed like they were doomed to an eternity of mediocre seasons in the MAC. At first, thats exactly what happened, but then Al Golden showed up in 2006 and Temple suddenly got kind of good.
Of course, UConn fans know this all too well. It is not easy to forget the scare that the Owls gave the Huskies in 2007. Temple was coming off a 1-11 season and came into Rentschler field immediately after a 42-7 loss to Buffalo. UConn seemed set to blow the Owls out of the water, but.... they didn't. Temple hung around the whole game, and with 40 seconds left, it looked like receiver Bruce Francis caught a tipped pass for a touchdown that would have given his team the lead. Francis was ruled out of bounds, and because a security guard was standing in the way of a clear shot, there wasn't enough video evidence to overturn the call. Temple fans were not happy, as evidenced by this:
In 2008, UConn traveled to Philadelphia and again seemed like primed to blow out the Owls. Nope. Despite over 200 yards from Donald Brown, UConn couldn't get on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter and it took overtime for the Huskies to sneak by the Owls, 12-9.
Now I think the 2010 UConn will be a better team than both the '07 and '08 squads, but Temple is definitely better then they were two or three years ago. UConn still should be able to handle the Owls, but Golden has shown he knows a thing or two about coaching against Randy Edsall, and if UConn isn't careful, they could be in for a nasty surprise.
Opponent: Temple University Owls
Date / Time / TV: Saturday, Sept. 18 / 12:00 p.m. / SNY and ESPN Regional
Site: Lincoln Financial Field - Philadelphia, PA (capacity 68,532)
Coach: Al Golden (19-30)
Team's Official Website: Temple Athletics
Other Fansites: The Owl's Nest
2009 Record: 9-4 (7-1 MAC; EagleBank Bowl lost to UCLA 30-21)
Notable 2009 wins: 27-24 at Navy (Oct. 31),
Notable 2009 losses: 27-24 vs. Villanova (Sept. 3)
September 11 Central Michigan
September 18 UConn
September 25 @ Penn St.
October 2 @ Army
October 9 @ Northern Illinois
October 16 Bowling Green
October 23 @ Buffalo
October 30 Akron
November 6 @ Kent St.
November 16 Ohio
November 23 @ Miami (OH)
Know Your Enemy: You'll be able to catch Temple's opener against Villanova on ESPN3 and their week two matchup with Central Michigan will be on ESPNU.
Series vs. UConn: Temple leads, 7-4
Last time vs. UConn: UConn 12, Temple 9 (Sept. 6, 2008)
2009 offensive stats: 29.5 PPG / 146.46 YPG passing / 187 YPG rushing
2009 defensive stats: 22.3 PPG / 226.38 YPG passing / 107.6 YPG rushing
Returning starters (offense): 9
Returning starters (defense): 7
Key players (defense): Sr. S Jaiquawn Jarrett (3 INT, 76 tackles in 2009) Jr. DE Adrian Robinson (36 tackles, 14 TFL, 5 FF, 12 sacks in 2009) Jr. DT Muhammad Wilkerson (61 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 1 FF, 6.5 sacks in 2009)
Our outlook for 2010, in 50 words or less: Temple seems to be the consensus favorite to win the MAC, and I don't see a lot of reasons to disagree with that. If they find a way to beat UConn (or better yet, Penn St. the next week) they could start to make an impact on the national scene.
What the experts say:
"Looked like the best team in the MAC last year at 7-0, but without RB Bernard Pierce (MAC #1 rusher, they lost to Ohio on the road in the finale ... power ratings call them the most talented team in the league." --Phil Steele
"Temple has been building toward becoming a perennial MAC-East challenger for several seasons. Coach Al Golden, whose time in Philly might be about up as suitors take notice of his completed rebuilding job, has All-MAC talent on both sides of the ball and more depth than ever." --Lindy's
"Chester Stewart started four of the last five games of last season and is a threat to move the ball with his feet as well as his arm. He completed just 40 percent of his passes, but averaged nearly 20 yards per completion." --Blue Ribbon
UConn wins if: They can contain Temple's running game and get through the Owl's D-line, which only allowed nine rushing touchdowns last year.
Temple wins if: They can do the exact same thing to the Huskies. Both of these teams have strong front sevens and powerful running games, with passing as a weak spot. Whoever controls the ground is going to be in a good position to win.
Bottom line: UConn should win. They have more talent and after the scares in '07 and '08, Randy Edsall should have his team ready to go. Still, Temple is dangerous. The game is weged inbetween matchups with cupcakes Texas Southern and Buffalo, so the Huskies have no excuse to overlook the Owls. It should be a win, but there is a lot of potential for a scare.