Time: 4pm Saturday, September 27th at 4pm on ESPNews
Series History: Series began in 1963, this is the 15th meeting between UConn and Temple, with the Owls holding a 9-5 advantage. In their six most recent meetings, UConn has won four- including last year's comeback win in Philadelphia
Last Meeting: UConn earned their first win of the season on Saturday, November 23rd, coming back from a 21-0 deficit to win 28-21. Yawin Smallwood returned an interception for a touchdown with 4 minutes left to put UConn up and the Huskies were able to hold on for the win.
Temple's season thus far
Temple is 2-1 with an opening weekend blowout of Vanderbilt and a win last week against FCS Delaware State. They lost a close one to Navy, 31-24 in between. This will be their first game on the American conference schedule.
Offensively, sophomore quarterback PJ Walker is a dual-threat, with 92 rushing yards on the season, all accrued against FBS opponents. His accuracy has improved from last season, as his improved completion percentage and yardage numbers will show. They have a trio of useful running backs in Jamie Gilmore (126 yards), Jahad Thomas (101 yards), and Kenneth Harper (89 yards) who have each carried the ball over 20 times this season. Harper is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield with eleven receptions, 83 yards and a touchdown.
The Owls are led defensively by linebacker Tyler Matakevich, one of three players on the roster from Connecticut, who leads the team in tackles and has been the leader of a defense which has been successful by winning the turnover battle and stout play on the line of scrimmage. While their pass defense has improved since last year, it should still be the weakness that UConn can exploit.
Head Coach Matt Rhule is in his second season with the team, taking over after Steve Addazio left for BC in 2012. In his first year the Owls went 2-10.
By the numbers:
Courtesy of Football Outsiders
|FEI - Offense||120th||93rd|
|FEI - Defense||60th||21st|
We're only a few games into the season so take all of this with a grain of salt, but this is actually a pretty even match-up as only six spots separate the two teams on Football Outsiders' F+ rankings.
Diaco on Temple (link):
They're another go fast, four and five open offense that has a downhill running attack... triple option style, attack the dive, attack the alley, attack the perimeter, which is an eye progression problem. They try to put your second level defenders in run/pass conflict son almost every play...
They're doing well moving the ball and producing points on offense, have a few explosive players. The quarterback (P.J. Walker) is a problem in that he's got a very strong arm and can make all the throws, and also is a big, athletic guy that can run. So that's another piece to the preparation this week.
And they play hard on defense and special teams. They have a couple guys you really like watching play, you'd like to be teammates with. A guy like Avery Williams, I put the tape on him and I end up just becoming a fan... They have some hard-nosed guys that like playing football and are well-coached.
Rhule on UConn (link):
They have a great head coach in Coach Diaco... His defense at UConn is playing just the way they did at Notre Dame, really good run defense, play great in the red zone. Really, really just kind of suffocates you... I have a lot of respect for what he's getting done...
Two of the last five games against them have gone into overtime, last year came down to the very end when we had the chance to win the game and didn't. One was the replay with Bruce Francis out of bounds, so four of those five or six games have come down to really the very end of the game within a score...
Geremy Davis hurt us a lot last year; he's as good of a receiver there is in the conference, if not the best...
They're going to play great defense, they're going to play great special teams... They'll two-gap you, they'll play one-gap, and they're really good. They've got really good linebackers, run-stop and safeties. And then they have Byron Jones, who was first-team All-Conference, I think he's probably a first or second round pick at field corner...
- Aside from starting tackle Kyle Friend, the Owls' remaining offensive linemen on the roster have 5 total starts.
- Temple only has 8 seniors on its roster
- Temple forced seven (7!) turnovers in their opening weekend win against Vanderbilt
- The Owls are favored by 5 points on the road against UConn
- The #1 jersey will be worn by a different Temple player each week, following in a Temple tradition, only the team's toughest players wear single digit jerseys with the #1 in constant rotation. The coaches and players decided who would wear jersey numbers 2 through 9 before the season started.