Date: Thursday, November 7, 2019
Kickoff Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
All-Time Series: Temple leads, 3-2
Last Meeting: 11/17/18. Temple 27 - USF 17
Betting Lines: Temple -2, O/U 49.5
Temple Owls Outlook
The Owls (5-3, 2-2) enter this meeting a wounded team. They are coming off back-to-back games in which their defense was manhandled. Granted, that has been the case for most teams that SMU and UCF have met. But after a 5-1 start to the season and some optimism that a conference championship could be in grasps, all that went flying out the window the last two weeks.
Temple can clinch their fifth straight bowl-eligible season with a win, the best five-year span in school history. What makes the feat more impressive is that Temple has had three (four if you want to count Manny Diaz’s short stint) different head coaches over that time frame. It speaks volumes about the culture the the Temple players, not coaches, have created in North Philadelphia.
Anthony Russo is the primary signal caller for the Owls. He is 159-of-274 (58 percent) for 1,873 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions on the season. The redshirt junior got off to a hot start, but has thrown just five touchdowns and three interceptions over the last four weeks. Temple will also mix in redshirt sophomore Todd Centeio at different points of the contest. Centeio is 17-of-23 (73.9 percent) with a touchdown pass.
The skill position players are all capable of making big plays. Re’Mahn Davis leads all true freshman in the nation with 655 rushing yards. He and Jager Gardner give Temple a terrific one-two punch at running back. The receiving corps has three players with over 40 receptions and averaging over 50 receiving yards per game in Jadan Blue, Branden Mack and Isaiah Wright.
Temple’s defense has been suspect as of late, but they are much better than they have shown the last two weeks. They have a terrific linebacker group with three seniors all making play after play. Quincy Roche and Dana Levine have combined for seven sacks from the defensive end positions, while Ifeanyi Maijeh leads the team with six sacks at defensive tackle. Cornerback Harrison Hand headlines the secondary with a team-high three interceptions and is second on the team with 42 total tackles.
South Florida Bulls Outlook
USF (4-4, 2-2) is in the midst of winning three of four games, including a 45-20 win over ECU their last time out. They also have wins against UConn and BYU in that stretch, but an embarrassing loss to Navy as well. As their record indicates, the Bulls are an average team at best.
Freshman Jordan McCloud has taken over at quarterback after Blake Barnett, the senior transfer from Alabama and Arizona State, suffered a season-ending injury in the loss to SMU a couple weeks ago. Barnett struggled in his time as the starter, completing only 51.9 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions. McCloud has not fared much better for USF, with a 55.6 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, but six interceptions. McCloud also has 242 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Jordan Cronkrite leads the Bulls with 587 yards rushing and four touchdowns of his own. The senior running back has rushed for over 129 yards in three of the last four games, with the exception being a 76-yard outing in that loss to Navy. Cronkrite has needed to play well with the passing game struggling. Randall St. Felix leads the team with 16 receptions, while Mitchell Wilcox is the leader in receiving yards (254) and receiving touchdowns (four).
The Bulls desperately need this game as the schedule makers did them no favors in November. The front runners for the AAC Championship game, Cincinnati and Memphis, are up next, and then the regular season closes with the War-on-I4 at UCF. They need to win two of the final four in order to be bowl eligible. If they do not get the win against Temple, it will be tough to imagine two wins in that stretch of games.
The home team has won every meeting in the short history between these two programs, and ESPN’s Football Power Index has the Bulls with a 60.7 percent winning percentage. Meanwhile, Vegas currently has the Owls as the favorite so this is toss up.
One team has been more impressive this season and that is Temple. They have had their struggles on the road, but did play well in wins over Memphis, Georgia Tech and Maryland. USF is a couple games removed from putting up three points at Navy. It will not be the prettiest game in Tampa, but Temple gets the win.
Temple 31 - USF 23