Date: Saturday, October 12, 2019
Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
All-Time Series: Series tied, 2-2
Last Meeting: 10/6/16. Memphis 34 - Temple 27.
Betting Lines: Memphis -5.5, O/U 50
Memphis Tigers Outlook
Mike Norvell has the Tigers off to a 5-0 start, including a victory over Ole Miss to start the season and a conference win against Navy already on their resume. What’s been most impressive about the Tigers is how they have gotten to this point.
We expect big numbers from the offense. Memphis is averaging 39.8 points and 461 yards per game, similar to what we have seen in recent years. Brady White is surrounded with weapons, including leading receiver Damonte Coxie. An injury to Patrick Taylor Jr. will keep him out of this contest, but the Tigers have found a star in Kenneth Gainwell. The redshirt freshman is averaging 8.2 yards per carry with six touchdowns on the season.
What has been the most surprising is how well the defense has played in the early going. The pass defense is third in the nation, allowing just 146.2 yards per game. That’s a far cry from a year ago when they finished 116th and 122nd in 2017. They are a bit vulnerable on the ground, however, allowing 179.2 yards per game, ranking 93rd in the country.
The Tigers have scored 50 points in two games this season, including a 52-33 win over Louisiana-Monroe last week. That victory got Memphis into both national polls for the first time this season. They are 20th in the Coaches Poll and No. 23 in the AP Top 25 this week.
Temple Owls Outlook
It’s the second time this season that the Owls will welcome a ranked opponent to Lincoln Financial Field as a home underdog. Temple was a 7.5-point underdog in their 20-17 win over 21st-ranked Maryland, the first of two wins over Power Five teams (Georgia Tech was the other).
Those wins over Power Five opponents are why the one blemish on Temple’s record is disheartening. We might be talking about another ranked AAC team if it wasn’t for the Owls loss to Buffalo. It was an inexcusable loss as the Bulls scored 31 unanswered points in large part due to Anthony Russo throwing three interceptions and also losing a fumble.
Outside of that loss, the Owls defense has not allowed more than 17 points in a game all season. They held ECU to that number last week in the 27-17 victory on the road for their first conference win. Re’Mahn Davis led Temple on offense with 157 yards rushing and a touchdown on 24 carries. The true freshman has rushed for 503 yards and four touchdowns on the year.
Russo is the starting quarterback for a Temple, but head coach Rod Carey will insert Todd Centeio into the game as a change of pace again this week. The Owls offense sputtered at times against ECU and Centeio’s ability to make plays on the ground got them going. Russo has thrown for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns with six interceptions. Centeio has thrown just 10 passes this season, completing eight of them.
This game could have plenty of implications in the American Athletic Conference title race. Memphis is looking to get back for a third straight year, but the AAC West is more competitive than ever. Cincinnati’s win over UCF opens the door in the AAC East for the Owls to get back to a conference championship game. There looks to be real parity in the American and that is great for the league.
Temple’s defense slowed down the Terps offense at home and will have a similar task this week with Memphis. On the flip side, this is the best defense the Tigers have played this season. With how well Memphis has been playing on defense, this one could come down to whether or not the Owls can keep up when they possess the ball.
The Owls have been in this spot before. They know what it takes to knock off a ranked team as an underdog at home. They have been embracing it all week. It’s also homecoming for Temple. A steady dose of defense and the running game should lead the cherry and white to the win.