NCAA

Big 5 football: Temple needs AAC win; Penn hits road; Villanova shorthanded

Big 5 football: Temple needs AAC win; Penn hits road; Villanova shorthanded

Temple (2-3, 0-2 AAC) at East Carolina (1-4, 1-1 AAC)
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, North Carolina
Saturday, noon, ESPNU


Last time out
Temple lost to Houston, 20-13, last Saturday.

East Carolina lost, 61-31, to South Florida last Saturday.

Scouting report
Temple’s offense showed signs of life in the second half against Houston, scoring 13 unanswered points. The rushing attack saw dramatic improvement. The Owls rushed for 142 yards on 37 carries after rushing for negative yards in the first half. The Owls began to run the ball more between the tackles once Houston’s All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver left and was unable to return because of an injury. After five games, Temple has a rushing unit that ranks last in the conference averaging 84.2 yards per game. Each team in the AAC averages at least 100 yards on the ground except for Temple.

East Carolina owns the worst scoring defense in the AAC. The Pirates allow 50.6 points per game while scoring only 24.6 points per game on offense. The Owls need to take advantage of a struggling Pirates defense to avoid losing their first three conference games.

What's at stake
Temple is still looking for its first conference win of the season after winning seven conference games last season. A loss to a 1-4 ECU team may cause panic for Owl fans.

Series history
This is the 15th meeting between the two squads. The series is tied, 7-7, and Temple defeated ECU, 37-10, last November.

What's next?
Temple hosts Connecticut.

ECU is at Central Florida.

Penn (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) at Central Connecticut State (2-3, 1-0 NEC)
Arute Field, New Britain, Connecticut
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Last time out
Penn lost to Dartmouth, 16-13, last Friday.

Central Connecticut State beat Sacred Heart, 26-15, last Saturday.

Scouting report
After losing to Dartmouth on a last-play TD run, Penn will look to get its 17th-ranked (FCS) running game back on track against one of the worst rushing defenses in the FCS (ranked 116th with 257.6 rushing yards allowed per game). Tre Solomon, the Ivy League's leading rusher from last year, will also likely return on Saturday after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Look for this matchup as a key to victory for Penn.

Central Connecticut State is also averaging a measly 163 yards per game through the air and has completed just 45 percent of its throws. The Blue Devils will try to get their passing game going against Penn, which ranks 120th in the FCS in passing yards allowed per game at 332.

What's at stake
The Quakers want to rebound from a gut-wrenching loss in their Ivy League opener while building some momentum before heading into the remainder of their conference slate.

Series history
This is just the second meeting between the two teams. Penn won last year’s matchup, 28-16, at home.

What's next?
Penn heads to Columbia.

Central Connecticut State travels to Wagner.

Villanova (3-2, 1-1 CAA) vs. Maine (1-2, 0-2 CAA)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Last time out
Villanova won at Towson, 24-9, last Saturday.

Maine lost at James Madison, 28-10, on Sept. 23. 

Scouting report
The 12th-ranked FCS Wildcats are going into Saturday’s matchup dealing with a lot of injuries. Last week against Towson, veteran QB Zach Bednarczyk left the game with a knee injury, just one week after Rob Rolle, senior safety and CAA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Now, the Wildcats will have to start redshirt freshman Jack Schetelich, who threw three interceptions and was just 5 of 15 for 59 yards passing after coming into last Saturday’s game against Towson. He did, however, have two rushing scores to go with a passing touchdown. His play will be a large factor in deciding the outcome against Maine.

The Black Bears haven't played in a game since their loss to top-ranked James Madison on Sept. 23 because of a scheduling conflict caused by Hurricane Irma. Nonetheless, Maine boasts a top-25 FCS rushing offense, led by top-seven rusher Josh Mack (502 yards, four touchdowns), and could test ‘Nova’s stout D-line.

What's at stake
For now, the Wildcats are trying to weather the storm without Bednarczyk and avoid a slipup before their road showdown at unbeaten JMU.

Series history
The two teams are meeting for the 21st time, with Villanova holding an 11-9 advantage. Last year, the Wildcats topped the Black Bears, 26-7.

What's next?
Villanova travels to James Madison.

Maine hosts Rhode Island.

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

BOX SCORE

That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

usa-logan-marchi-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday


Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday


Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.