Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Friday, Oct. 2
Location: McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, North Carolina
Records: Temple 3-0, Charlotte 2-2. This is the first meeting between these two programs.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: Charlotte +22.5. Over/Under: 44.
Temple Outlook: The Owls head into this game at 3-0, most recently beating Massachusetts on a last second field goal.
What has happened to the Owls in 2015 to change them from a .500 team to a team that could push for a New Year’s Day bowl? One thing stands out above everything else…. field position. The Owls are the third best team in the nation at average starting field position. The offense is starting on the 37 yard line, nearly eight yards ahead of the national average.
Overall offense is still a bit of a problem as the running game is #110 nationally with a success rate of only 35.9%, meaning Temple is not staying on schedule during nearly 65% of all run plays. Luckily for the run game, a rushing IsoPPP of 1.11 means they are taking advantage of positive plays. Despite Jahad Thomas’ (80/394/4TD) 4.9 yards per carry, Temple is the fourth worst team in the nation at completing third or fourth and shorts with the run game.
With PJ Walker (56-88/615/3TD) at quarterback, the Owls cannot expect anything above average in the passing game. Walker’s top target, Robby Anderson (12/112/1TD) has been targeted on 20.7% of all pass plays by Walker. Among the top four receiving targets in the passing game, only Anderson and Ventell Bryant (8/99/0TD) have a catch rate of over 60%. In total, Walker has targeted the quartet 56 times in the 2015 season with only 34 passes caught. Those numbers have to improve if Temple wants a NYD bowl.
One thing that has not changed is Temple’s ability to play defense. Among the five factors, Temple is in the top 35 in four categories. Teams are only successful on 34.5% of all offensive plays versus Temple and only able to manage 3.93 points per trip inside the 40. A combination of defense and special teams, Temple’s opponent’s average starting spot is the 25.6 yard line, good for #20 nationally.
Running the ball versus Temple is one of the hardest things to do in the 2015 season. Temple is in the top 20 nationally in rush defense S&P+, success rate, opportunity rate, and power success rate. The only thing the Owls struggle with is giving up the big play from time to time and the inability to stop a team for no gain or a loss. Otherwise, they are incredibly tough to run the ball against. Teams are passing the ball with a little more success versus the Owls, but are still only successful on 37.6% of all pass plays. If there is a time that Temple is most vulnerable on defense, it is the third quarter. The defense has seen a dip right after halftime on a regular basis before an excellent final quarter.
Players to watch on the Owls defense include: Tyler Matakevich (29 tkl, 3.5 tfl, 3 sacks, 2 INT), Jarred Alwan (22 tkl, 2.5 tfl, 1 sack), and Tavon Young (17 tkl).
Charlotte Outlook: In playing their first season as a FBS program, the 49ers have been able to surpass many expectations with a 2-2 record.
Offensively, the 49ers are just not very good. The only one of the five factors that Charlotte is above #100 nationally is average starting field position. Turnovers have been the worst with Charlotte’s turnover luck at -9.31 points per game. The 49ers are overmatched on the offensive line versus solid FBS programs. The rush offense is only successful on 37.8% of all run plays, and an IsoPPP of 0.89 is in the bottom 12 nationally. Kalif Phillips (71/380/2TD) is one of three 100+ yard rushers on the season. Andrew Buie (42/175/0TD) and quarterback Matt Johnson have also crossed the plateau. Overall, Charlotte is rushing for 147.5 yards per game.
Passing the football has been nothing short of a disaster for the 49ers so far. Playing three different quarterbacks, the pass game has accounted for 12 interceptions and only four touchdown passes. Matt Johnson (32-59/491/3TD) is the best quarterback among the three, with the other two quarterbacks averaging 1.6 and 1.9 yards per pass attempt this season. Austin Duke (21/288/2TD) is the top target with over 30% of all pass attempts heading his way. Only Duke and Workpeh Kofa (6/71/0TD) have been targeted 10 or more times and have a catch rate of 60% or higher.
For a team that has given up 73 points in a game this season, a defensive number that jumps off the page is a 27.5% success rate of offenses versus the Charlotte defense. That is the fourth best defensive success rate and 13% lower than the national average. That number makes the outrageous score versus MTSU look more like an exception, rather than the rule. The 49ers have stopped rushing attacks on 74.2% of all rush attempts, but have given up lots of yards when teams get by the first level. The defense is #16 nationally with a stuff rate of 27.9%. Again, the 49ers are in the top ten nationally in pass defense success rate at 29.0%, 11.6% better than the national average. They are being victimized by the big play with the #120 passing IsoPPP ranking in the nation. Overall, Charlotte is giving up 336.8 yards per game.
Players for the 49ers defense to look out for include: Larry Ogunjobi (25 tkl, 7.5 tfl, 1 sack), Nick Cook(24 tkl, 2 tfl), and Daquan Lucas (13 tkl, 4 tfl, 0.5 sacks).
Prediction: Outside of a late season trip to Kentucky, this game looks to be the least likely for Charlotte to pull an upset. Temple is projected to dominate from start to finish and should turn the 49ers over on multiple occasions.
Expect this to get ugly. Temple 56, Charlotte 10.