Cincinnati (6-2) at Temple (3-5)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) -- Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Television: RSN. Home Record: Cincinnati 5-0, Temple 2-2. Away
Record: Cincinnati 0-2, Temple 1-3. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 1-0, Temple
0-0. Conference Record: Cincinnati 2-1, Temple 2-3 Series Record: Temple leads
GAME NOTES: The Temple Owls will hope that a return to Lincoln Financial Field
can help remedy a recent losing skid, but the Owls will have to be wary of a
high-powered Cincinnati Bearcats squad, as the teams clash in Big East play
Losing back-to-back games at the end of October had Cincinnati reeling a bit,
but with a 35-24 win at home over Syracuse last weekend the Bearcats have
avoided sliding even further. The win puts the Bearcats at 2-1 in conference
play, keeping them in competition for the Big East title, although it is
undefeated Louisville's to lose at the moment. Playing on the road may not be
helpful in keeping the Bearcats in contention as both of Cincinnati's losses
have come on the road.
Rewind to Oct. 20. Temple was coming off of back-to-back wins in its first two
conference games and was giving then No. 19 Rutgers all it could handle,
leading 10-0 at halftime at home. It looked like the Owls might be on the way
to a shocking return to the Big East. Fast forward to today and the Owls have
lost three straight games, including to Rutgers, all by at least 25 points. It
is the first three-game losing streak for the Owls since 2008 when Temple
Cincinnati was not a member of the Big East when the Owls made their departure
from the conference in 2004. So this game marks the first time these two teams
have met as conference foes. In the previous 14 matchups it has been Temple
that has reigned supreme with a 9-4-1 record against the Bearcats. However the
last time these squads met, in 2003, Cincinnati pulled out a 30-24 win in
triple overtime at Nippert Stadium.
Munchie Legaux has really been on a downward slide in terms of his passing in
recent weeks for Cincinnati. The dual-threat quarterback threw for a season-
low 124 yards while completing an even 50 percent of his passes in the win
over Syracuse. Legaux has now completed 50 percent of his passes in three
straight games while reaching above only 200 yards in that time. Also alarming
is the amount of times he has turned the ball over with six interceptions
during the three game stretch. He had only three total in the team's first
Unfortunately Legaux's struggles to throw the ball have also coincided with a
season-long issue on the ground. After rushing for 117 yards in week one,
Legaux has rushed for more than 40 yards in a game just once. Legaux's issues
running the ball have largely gone unnoticed thanks to the stellar play of
George Winn. The Bearcats starting running back has been piling up yards all
season and is coming off a season-high 165-yard, thee-touchdown performance
against Syracuse. Winn also threw a touchdown pass in the game in what was one
of the most talked about plays in college football this past weekend. Overall
Winn has rushed for 897 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ralph David Abernathy has been a solid backup for Winn, although Winn's
durability has limited Abernathy's production (53 attempts, 301 yards, 3 TDs).
Tight end Travis Kelce was the man on the other side of Winn's jump-pass for a
touchdown last weekend and a second touchdown pass from backup quarterback
Brendon Kay. Kelce had a season-high 77 yards receiving in the game jumping
him to the top of the leader boards among Cincinnati receivers in yards (385)
and touchdowns (4) despite making only 19 receptions. Kenbrell Thompkins (23
receptions, 338 yards) is the leader in terms of receptions while Abernathy
has been used largely in passing situations with 19 receptions for 244 yards
and three scores.
Cincinnati has been fortunate on defense this season allowing opposing teams
to score just 19.9 points per game despite ranking sixth in the conference in
total defense (389.9 ypg). It's been a bit of a bend without breaking approach
on defense for the Bearcats. Although they give up a fair amount of yards the
Bearcats really tighten up in crucial spots, ranking second in the conference
in both opponents third down conversion (36.2 percent) and red zone conversion
rate (73.1 percent).
The defensive unit for the Bearcats has had to move on with the loss of top
pass rusher Walter Stewart (5.0 sacks) over the last few weeks. Stewart is
suffering from a spinal injury from mid-October and is done for the season.
Thus far no player has been able to step up and make up for his lack of
production, with Dan Giordano and John Williams each recording 2.5 sacks. Greg
Blair has been a solid tackler all season with 83, the second most in the
Week-in and week-out opponents know that Temple will struggle to throw the
ball yet the Owls have been unable to remedy that. The Owls are the worst
passing team in the Big East and the fourth worst in the nation. Without any
semblance of an effective aerial attack the Owls are also dead last in the
conference in total offense (296.3 ypg).
Head coach Steve Addazio has thus started to look beyond starter Chris Coyer
giving Clifford "Juice" Granger time in each of the last three games. Granger
had a season-high seven pass attempts against Louisville last week after
Coyer completed just 2-of-8 passes for 20 yards. For the time being, Coyer
will still get the majority of snaps but its likely that Granger will continue
to see time if the passing game can't get going.
What has been reliable for the Owls this season has been the run game,
specifically Boston College-transfer Montel Harris. The former All-ACC back
has been stellar after a slow start. He has rushed for 553 of his 578 total
rushing yards and all five touchdowns this season in the last five games
including a 115-yard, one-score effort against Louisville. Harris was the only
bright spot in the game for the offense as the Owls managed only 309 yards of
total offense, 255 of which came on the ground.
Only three players have caught 10 or more passes this season led by Jalen
Fitzpatrick (22, 291 yards) although he was held without a reception against
On the defensive side of the ball Temple has been regressing as the season
wears on. The Owls were absolutely lit up by Louisville's offense last week,
surrendering 508 total yards, including 338 through the air. In all Temple is
ranked last in the conference in total defense (420.3 ypg) and scoring defense
(29.9 ppg). In fact Temple is the only team in the conference giving up more
than 400 yards of total offense per game this season.
Tyler Matakevich has carved out a permanent spot for himself in the
linebacking rotation. After he did not have one tackle in two of the first
three games. the freshman has recorded double-digit tackle totals in five
straight games. His 66 tackles this season are a team-high. Nate Smith (60
tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) has also been a tackling machine and
the team's best option to get to the quarterback.
For a little while it looked like Temple might actually stun people with a
successful run in its first season back in the Big East. Reality has set in
though as the Owls are too one-dimensional on offense and not strong enough on
defense to compete this season. Cincinnati's offense is too good to be slowed
by the Owls in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 33, Temple 17
11/07 10:40:32 ET