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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, October 11, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Nippert Stadium (35,097) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Temple 0-3, Cincinnati 2-0. Away Record: Temple 0-2, Cincinnati 1-2. Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 0-2, Cincinnati 0-2. Series Record: Temple leads, 9-5-1.
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats will take aim at their fourth win while the Temple Owls are still in search of their first, as the two teams meet up in American Athletic Conference action at Nippert Stadium.
Matt Rhule's first season at the helm of the Owls has not been a memorable one. After taking a 30-7 beating from Louisville last time out, the Owls dropped to 0-5 on the campaign and 0-2 in league play. It is the worst start for Temple since 2007, when the team finished just 4-8.
In its AAC opener it seemed like Cincinnati had a winnable contest against a winless South Florida squad. However, a pair of offensive miscues led to touchdowns for the Bulls and sank the Bearcats in a 26-20 road loss. Cincinnati is still sporting a 3-2 overall record, but an 0-1 start to league play was clearly not in the gameplan.
Cincinnati is one of the few teams in the conference that Temple has a winning record against (9-5-1). However, last season the Bearcats rolled to a 34-10 win at Lincoln Financial Field.
If there was any positive take away from the loss to Louisville, it was the emergence of P.J. Walker. The freshman quarterback wasn't perfect (10-of-19, 182 yards, TD, INT) after coming in for starter Connor Reilly, who struggled, but he showed flashes of greatness. One of the more impressive plays for Walker on the day was a perfectly placed 58-yard strike to Robby Anderson in the second quarter.
Regardless of who is throwing the ball, it is clear that the Owls will continue to rely on the run. Kenny Harper (56 carries, 250 yards, six TDs) has been the most productive back for the Owls, though he had just 28 yards against Louisville. Zaire Williams (43 carries, 218 yards) is another solid option in the backfield.
Ryan Alderman (19 receptions, 282 yards, TD) and Jalen Fitzpatrick (17 receptions, 139 yards, TD) are the most consistent pass-catching threats.
There has been very little to like about Temple in terms of overall defense as it ranks last in the league in total yards allowed per game (518). However, the Owls have been able to keep their scoring average down (27.2 ppg) thanks to some solid play in the red zone. Though teams have scored on 21-of-26 trips inside the 20, only eight of those scores have been touchdowns.
Tyler Matakevich (67 tackles, 7.0 TFL) leads the AAC in tackles and is tied for fourth in stops for loss but he doesn't get much help across the board.
The offense let the Bearcats down against South Florida as a blocked field goal and a fumble return for a touchdown was the difference in the game. Miscues have plagued the Bearcats, who rank third in the conference in total offense (453.8 ypg), but tied for the second most turnovers (11) in the conference.
Brendon Kay has suffered in that regard of late. Kay has completed 66.7 percent of his pass attempts for 816 yards and seven touchdowns but he has been intercepted four times, all in the last two weeks. He will remain the starter with Munchie Legaux out for the season with a knee injury.
Anthony McClung had one of his best games against USF with a season-best eight receptions for 90 yards. The Bearcats will need more efforts like that from McClung (18 receptions, 234 yards, TD), as well as Max Morrison (12 receptions, 223 yards, two TDs) and Shaq Washington (24 receptions, 210 yards).
Hosey Williams (58 carries, 324 yards, four TDs) and Ralph David Abernathy (64 carries, 309 yards, two TDs) are the top options in the running game. However, the duo was stymied against USF with just 54 yards.
It wasn't the defensive effort from the Bearcats that sank them against USF. Actually the team has been rather strong defensively all season, holding teams to 17.4 points and 251 yards per game. That production has the Bearcats ranked second in the conference in total defense and third in points allowed.
Greg Blair (32 tackles) has been a tackling machine for the Bearcats, though he has just 1.5 stops for loss. Nick Temple (26 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) has been the more disruptive defender with a team-lead in tackles for loss.
A year ago Cincinnati rolled over Temple. The Owls are even weaker this season, especially on offense. Cincinnati should have no problem repeating the 2012 outcome.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 28, Temple 10
10/09 11:06:51 ET