Syracuse (6-5) at Temple (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 11 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Syracuse 4-1, Temple 2-3. Away Record: Syracuse 2-3, Temple 2-3. Neutral Record: Syracuse 0-1, Temple 0-0. Conference Record: Syracuse 4-2, Temple 2-4. Series Record: Syracuse leads 25-10-1.
GAME NOTES: In a late morning regular-season finale, the Syracuse Orange make a trip south to Philadelphia to face the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday.
A 17-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib to Alec Lemon with 20 seconds left in regulation, lifted Syracuse to a stunning 31-27 win on the road over Missouri last weekend. The win was the fourth in the last five games for Syracuse, which has put together a solid 6-5 season overall to go along with a 4-2 ledger in league play. The team's overall record makes it bowl eligible for only the second time in the last eight years.
Temple didn't need any late-game heroics in its 63-32 rout of Army in West Point last weekend. In the game, senior running back Montel Harris looked to be on the field by himself as he racked up 351 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Both totals were Big East and school records. The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Owls and moves them to 4-6 this season. Temple is just 2-4 in league play in its return to the Big East.
When these teams last faced off it was also in Philadelphia, with the Owls besting the Orange 34-24 in its last season in the Big East before their return this season. However in the overall series, Syracuse holds a 25-10-1 lead including a streak of 16 straight wins between 1983 and 2001.
Connections between Nassib and Lemon have been prevalent for Syracuse this season. Lemon has pulled in 65 passes for 989 yards and seven touchdowns this season which makes him the leading receiver in the conference by a wide margin. After pulling in 12 passes for 244 yard and two scores last week against Missouri, Lemon has now had five games with at least seven receptions and 100 yards this season. Interestingly enough the Big East's second most productive receiver also wears orange. Marcus Sales (60 receptions, 817 yards, 7 TDs) has been another prolific option for Nassib and has five 100-yard efforts.
Nassib is the real leader of this team. The senior quarterback became the all- time passing leader at Syracuse last weekend as he threw for 385 yards and a pair of scores while completing 26-of-40 pass attempts. On the season, Nassib has thrown for a Big East best 3,404 yards to go with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Nassib's completion percentage (63.6) is the third best in the conference as well.
The offensive weapons are not exclusive to the passing game for Syracuse. The duo of Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley has been an excellent complement to the passing attack. Smith is a more bruising runner and leads the team in yards (923) and carries (178). Gulley is a change-of-pace back that has rushed for 481 yards and a team-leading five scores.
With so much talent up and down the roster, Syracuse has enjoyed the most productive offensive output in the conference this season (473.3 ypg) and the third best scoring offense (28.5 ppg).
On defense, Syracuse is not as effective. The Orange are ranked sixth in both total yards allowed (389.2 ypg) and scoring defense (26.2 ppg), meaning the Orange are quite often involved in shootouts.
Up front is where the strength of the team resides. Defensive end Brandon Sharpe (13.5 TFLs, 6.0 sacks) is the lead pass rusher, while linebackers Dyshawn Davis (61 tackles, 11.0 TFLs) and Siriki Diabate (72 tackles) have also produced.
Success on the ground has really been the only success the Owls have had on offense this season. Powered by Harris, the Owls are the second best rushing team in the conference this year (204.6 ypg).
Getting Harris as a transfer from Boston College has paid major dividends all season for the Owls. Harris started slow, but has turned it up down the stretch and now finds himself as the third-leading rusher in the Big East with 948 yards. Harris actually leads the conference in yards per game (105.3), joining Cincinnati's George Winn as the only backs in the conference to pick up 100 yards or more on a weekly basis.
Even with the powerful rushing attack, the Owls' passing game is so bad that the team ranks last in the conference in total offense (320.2 ypg).
Head coach Steve Addazio finally addressed the issue by pulling beleaguered quarterback Chris Coyer from the starting job last week. In his place Clinton "Juice" Granger was inserted. However Granger threw the ball only four times with the run game taking over. Granger has seen time in each of the last five games and works with Addazio's offense, which utilizes the quarterback in the rushing game.
Jalen Fitzpatrick (25 receptions, 333 yards, 2 TDs) is the only player on the team with more than 140 yards and 20 receptions through the air.
While the offense certainly has its problems, the Temple defense has been nothing but a problem. The Owls are ranked dead last in the Big East in both scoring (30.5 ppg) and total defense (432.9 ypg). If there is one area where the Owls have managed to turn in strong efforts this season it is on the pass rush. Entering this game the Owls have the second mist sacks (25) in the conference behind only Connecticut.
Freshman linebacker Tyler Matakevich (87 tackles) has been as close to a guarantee to put up double-digit tackles on a weekly basis as there is in the country. In the past seven games he has led the Owls in tackles in all seven while totaling double figures in tackles six times. John Youboty (5.0 sacks) is the lead pass rusher.
Even if Harris and the Temple run game can put up another big day, the Owls don't have nearly enough offense through the air to keep up with the high- flying Orange.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 31, Temple 20
11/21 11:00:37 ET