The hype was not real for the Temple Owls.
Many experts thought that Geoff Collins’ group would be the conference’s best bet to give the UCF Knights a run in the AAC East.
They have been anything but impressive.
Temple came up short at home once again in a 36-29 loss to the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday. Tyree Jackson’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Johnson with 59 seconds remaining spoiled two fourth quarter comebacks to tie the game from the Owls.
The win gave Buffalo their first 2-0 start since 1983 and first as an FBS member.
Jackson, who impressed in front of a handful of NFL scouts, threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, including the strike to Johnson for the final points of the game.
Temple did their part to help the cause on the final drive as Karamo Dioubate was called for roughing the passer on an incomplete pass on third down to move the ball into Temple territory. A few plays later, Johnson broke a would-be tackle from Rodney Williams to find pay dirt for the go-ahead score. The All-American candidate finished with six receptions for 76 yards and the score.
Buffalo also got a solid performance from Kevin Marks, who rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Temple had an opportunity to make it a game with one more comeback drive, but a strip-sack recovered by Buffalo near midfield ended those hopes. It was the second week in a row in which a turnover ended the game for the Owls, and Frank Nutile has accounted for five turnovers in two games.
The Temple offense did look a little better this week, most notably the running game. After finishing with 31 yards on 14 carries against Villanova, Ryquell Armstead racked up 107 yards rushing on as many carries. Branden Mack, who has become Nutile’s favorite target through two games, hauled in two touchdown receptions. Mack also came up with a much-needed special teams play to get Temple back into the game.
Special teams has been the only real positive for the Owls this season as they scored on a blocked kick in consecutive weeks. Mack blocked a Buffalo punt and Ty Mason was able to recover the ball in the end zone, and a successful two-point conversion tied the game at 22 apiece. Last week, Quincy Roche blocked a kick and Kimere Brown took it for a touchdown.
Could there be a quarterback controversy brewing in North Philadelphia? Nutile has been far from impressive and three quarterbacks saw action this week. Anthony Russo and Todd Centeio also saw action against the Bulls. Geoff Collins said they had packages installed into the game plan throughout the week of preparation.
Nutile did throw for 216 yards and three touchdowns, but turnovers plagued him once again, throwing two interceptions in consecutive weeks, in addition to the fumble in the final minute of the game.
Up next for the Owls is their first road game of the year as they travel to Maryland, who is 2-0 to start the season. Many thought this could be another opportunity for the AAC to showcase themselves against a Big Ten opponent, but the Terps have been impressive despite the off-the-field issues this summer.