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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kibbie Dome (16,000) -- Moscow, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: Temple 0-2, Idaho 0-1. Away Record: Temple 0-1, Idaho 0-3. Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 0-1, Idaho 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of winless squads meet up at the Kibbie Dome on Saturday afternoon, as the Idaho Vandals plays host to the Temple Owls.
Matt Rhule's first year as Temple's head coach has not gone according to plan so far. The season started with a loss at Notre Dame, which was expected, even though the Owls fought hard and fell by a respectable margin (28-6). The squad had hopes to turn things around with a two-game homestand, but it suffered disappointing defeats to Houston (22-13) in its American Athletic Conference debut and to FCS opponent Fordham (30-29) before last week's bye. The Fordham loss came in heart-breaking fashion, as the defense surrendered the game- winning touchdown with just four seconds remaining.
Idaho, an Independent in 2013 after the Western Athletic Conference stopped sponsoring football following last season, is one of the few teams in the nation off to a worse start than Temple, dropping each of its first four games. The Vandals most recently lost to Washington State in a 42-0 shutout to extend their losing streak to 10 games. They last won on Oct. 6, 2012 at home versus New Mexico State, and they have gone just 2-24 dating back to September of 2011.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams.
The Owls have suffered from a lack of identity on the offensive side of the ball, as they put up a meager 16.0 ppg behind 349.0 ypg.
Although quarterback Connor Reilly showed plenty of potential in the opener against Notre Dame, the results through three games have been lackluster (.543 completion percentage, 497 yards, TD, two INTs). Clinton Granger has seen some time under center but has done little to impress (6-of-16, 58 yards, INT).
Zaire Williams (171 yards) and Kenny Harper (161 yards) get an even amount of carries out of the backfield. While Williams has yet to find the end zone, Harper has proven much more impressive as a closer with four touchdowns.
Ryan Alderman has 10 catches for 133 yards to lead the receiving corps, while Chris Coyer (10 catches, 94 yards) has the team's only touchdown grab.
Temple has the AAC's worst-ranked defense, surrendering 529.0 ypg, but it has been somewhat bend-don't-break in yielding an average of 26.7 ppg.
The unit has forced just two turnovers through three games, with Anthony Robey and Stephaun Marshall each recovering a fumble. Tyler Matakevich anchors the defense with 36 tackles and 5.0 TFL, while Sean Daniels has 3.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks.
Even more so than Temple, the Vandals have struggled mightily on offense. Idaho's scoring average of 12.8 ppg ranks 117th out of 123 qualifying FBS programs, and had it not been for a 35-point effort against Northern Illinois a few weeks ago, it could be much worse.
Oddly enough, Chad Calich has played relatively well under center, completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 801 yards, tossing three touchdowns paired with zero interceptions.
The presence of the sure-handed Dezmon Epps is one of the offense's few saving graces. Epps is tied for 11th in the country with 29 receptions, resulting in 302 yards.
Unfortunately for the Vandals, the rushing attack has been nearly non- existent, as they average less than three yards per attempt. James Baker leads the way with 146 yards and three touchdowns.
Idaho is not equipped with a strong enough defense to bail out its underperforming offense, the unit allowing gaudy averages of 42.2 points and 520.0 yards per contest.
The defense has impressed at times with nine takeaways. Maxx Forte and Quinton Bradley have each recovered a pair of fumbles, although Bradley is listed as questionable for this contest with a shoulder injury. Bradley Njoku (30 tackles, 3.0 TFL, INT) and Marc Millan (28 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) are also in the midst of solid seasons.
If Idaho wants to put an end to its prolonged streak of futility, there's no better time to do it than against a fellow winless squad at home. While the Vandals have been blown out in all three of their road games, they fought hard against NIU in the Kibbie Dome on Sept. 14 (45-35) and should remain competitive in this one, but Temple is simply the more talented team and should have enough in the tank to get Rhule his first win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 31, Idaho 28
09/25 10:35:55 ET
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