Matt Cockayne

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

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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.

Return of leader Josh Brown gives Temple backcourt depth to strike back

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Return of leader Josh Brown gives Temple backcourt depth to strike back

When fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown tore his Achilles tendon in late May 2016, it dealt a huge blow to the Owls’ 2017 NCAA Tournament chances.

Brown, who led the AAC with 36.2 minutes per game as Temple’s primary ball handler in 2015-16, underwent surgery on May 25 and came back for five games early in the year. But after a 78-57 loss at Villanova in mid-December, Brown was ruled out for the rest of the season.

The loss of the Owls’ backcourt leader put their young guards in a tough position, thrusting them into the spotlight without much experience. Although they acquitted themselves well, Temple had a disappointing season, finishing 16-16 and losing in the first round of the AAC Tournament to East Carolina.

The Owls did not advance to a postseason tournament and missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

However, with Brown returning for his fifth year after being granted a medical redshirt, the Owls' glaring weakness from last year is now their greatest strength.

“The [guard] rotation is going to be interesting for us,” head coach Fran Dunphy said. “We’ll probably play four guards a number of times because we have an abundance of guys that want to be out there and need to be out there on the court. We have a bunch of guys that are ready to go. Again, as our preseason stuff has been working, it’s been the competitiveness that has been terrific.”

Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. will be a big part of that rotation. After Brown was lost for the season in 2016-17, Alston became Temple’s primary ball handler as a sophomore with little experience.

He had to average 36.4 minutes per game and responded well, leading the team with 13.9 points and 4.1 assists per game.

“His mindset is totally different,” Brown said about Alston. “Going from his freshman year to his sophomore year, he was thrown into the fire and I thought he did a pretty good job, you know. Now, with all that experience he has on the court, I think he’s ready to take that next step and be a consistent scorer and a be a consistent guy on defense and be a consistent guy that we can all lean on.”

Sophomores Quinton Rose and Alani Moore had to make up for the absence of Brown, as well, averaging 24.8 and 25.8 minutes per game last year, respectively. Moore, a starter in his freshman year, likely will come off the bench this season, which is a true testament to the amount of depth the Owls have in the backcourt.

Moore’s offensive versatility, which allows him to bring the ball up in certain situations and play on the wing, as well, will be very important if the Owls want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament.

“You can let other guys bring it up and have others guys do other things on the court, so it helps out a great deal,” Brown said. “It opens up everybody’s game. Like Alani Moore, he’s a point guard, but he’s also a great shooter, so he can spot up from time to time and things like that.”

“Alani and Q aren’t your average sophomores,” Alston added. “We played almost the same amount of minutes [last year] and I’m a junior, so they’re very veteran guys already.”

Players have also been raving about the talent and competitiveness that freshmen guards/wings Nate Pierre-Louis, J.P. Moorman and De’vondre Perry have shown throughout the offseason and preseason.

“It’s amazing, I’ve never seen freshmen this ready to play,” Alston said. “J.P. can bring the ball up, ‘Dre can bring the ball up, even Nate sometimes, so it’ll help us a lot.”

When you factor Trey Lowe, a redshirt sophomore guard who missed all of last season as he has been recovering from a February 2016 car accident and could return later this season, into the equation, the Owls have an incredibly deep and versatile backcourt.

The last time the Owls made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament was in 2001 when they lost to Michigan State in the Elite Eight. According to Alston, immediately after the Owls were bounced from the AAC Tournament last year, they talked about their potential to make a run.

“We see teams like South Carolina go all the way, teams similar to ourselves that are not the big blood teams like Kentucky or Duke,” Alston said. “We think we can make it to the second round, third round or as far as we want.”

If they’re going to do it, their veteran backcourt will be the reason why.

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.