Temple commits 6 turnovers in blowout loss to No. 21 South Florida

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Temple commits 6 turnovers in blowout loss to No. 21 South Florida

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- An improved defense is setting up No. 21 South Florida for a potentially big season.

The Bulls forced six turnovers and held defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple to minus-4 yards rushing Thursday night in a 43-7 victory that extends the team's winning streak to a school-record nine straight games.

Darius Tice rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and USF (4-0) scored at least 30 points in a nation-leading 21st consecutive game.

Dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers and an explosive offense usually keys the team's success, however that's beginning to change.

The team had four interceptions Thursday night, boosting its season total to 12 in four games. The Bulls had eight all last season, when USF prospered despite having a leaky defense.

In part because of the strides made on defense, the Bulls have not lost since falling by 16 points to Temple last October in Philadelphia -- a setback that wound up costing them a berth in the AAC championship game.

Coach Charlie Strong said rather than dwell on what transpired last year, he and his players focused on the importance of setting a tone for this season's conference race.

"When you play with passion and enthusiasm, that's the kind of performance you'll get," Strong said.

Tice scored on runs of 47 and 3 yards. Flowers, coming off accounting for 386 yards and five TDs in a 24-point blowout of Illinois , also ran for two touchdowns to take sole possession of first place on the Bulls' career rushing TD list with 34.

USF's defense, meanwhile, dominated from the start, pressuring Temple's Logan Marchi and coming up with the first three interceptions of the season thrown by the Owls quarterback.

Backup quarterback Frank Nutile was intercepted once, and the Owls also lost two fumbles.

"You're not going to lead very many games when you turn the ball over six times," Temple coach Geoff Collins said.

"The thing that we talked about all week was being plus-three in the turnover margin," Collins added. "They're way too good of a team to be negative, especially negative six."

The Owls (2-2) were held to minus-4 yards net rushing and were outgained 408 yards to 85. Marchi threw for 767 yards, five TDs and no interceptions in his first three starts for Temple, but was just 3 of 13 for 32 yards on Thursday night.

"We've got to get better. We've got to protect the ball, which has been a trademark for us for three entire games," Collins said. "We let that slip a little bit tonight, but we'll get that corrected."

Defensive end Jacob Martin scored Temple's only touchdown, sacking Flowers and forcing a fumble that the defensive end returned 44 yards in the second quarter.

The teams have developed a little bit of a rivalry over the past three seasons. USF knocked off the then-No. 21 Owls 44-23 in Tampa two years ago and Ryquell Armstead rushed for 210 yards and two TDs to key Temple's 46-30 victory in Philadelphia last October.

Both teams finished 7-1 in league play, with the Owls representing the Eastern Division in the AAC championship game for the second straight year under former coach Matt Rhule, who left for Baylor in December.

Less than a week later, Strong -- fired at Texas after three seven-loss seasons -- landed at USF, which lost former coach Willie Taggart to Oregon.

Strong inherited a team that won a school-record 11 games and has the Bulls off to their best start since 2011.

The takeaway
Temple: The Owls have lopsided losses to Notre Dame and USF wrapped around close wins over Villanova and Massachusetts. The defense has been vulnerable to both the run and pass. Offensively, first-year coach Geoff Collins has to get Marchi and Armstead, who gained 3 yards on 11 carries Thursday night, back on track.

South Florida: Flowers is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, however the Bulls are hardly a one-man show on offense. What's becoming clear as the season progresses, though, is a much-improved defense has a chance to make this a truly special year for USF, which has never won a conference championship.

Poll implications
Playing two consecutive week-night games on national television has given USF some much appreciated attention, however it remains to be seen how much of a difference it makes in the next AP poll. The Bulls climbed one spot after last week's dominant performance against Illinois, and it's difficult to imagine them climbing much higher solely on their rout of Temple.

Up next
Temple: Conference home opener against Houston a week from Saturday.

South Florida: Play a Saturday game for the first time in four weeks, traveling to East Carolina for conference road opener on Sept. 30.

Temple at No. 21 USF: Owls look to defend AAC title vs. this season's favorite

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CSN

Temple at No. 21 USF: Owls look to defend AAC title vs. this season's favorite

Temple (2-1, 0-0 AAC) vs. No. 21 South Florida (3-0, 0-0 AAC)
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida
Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

It was another disjointed effort last week for Geoff Collins’ Temple team, but, when the horn sounded, it was another notch in the win column.

Things got hairy again for the Owls —  just as they did the prior week vs. Villanova — and Temple had to fend off an underwhelming UMass team for a 29-21 victory last week at the Linc.

But the mood is about to change.

That’s because the Owls on Thursday have a date in Tampa vs. AAC heavyweight No. 21 South Florida.

Head coach Charlie Strong —  formerly of Texas — and the Bulls, the preseason AAC champion pick and the “Group of Six” darling among many pundits, are 3-0 on the season and are coming off a 47-23 romp over Illinois last week.

The Bulls are an offensive juggernaut, having scored 120 points over their first three games. They’ve also scored at least 30 points in their last 20 games, the longest such streak in the nation.

Needless to say, the Owls are in for a stern test.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

Scouting Temple
Even though true freshman Todd Centeio took a handful of snaps and helped move the ball last week, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi is still the guy for Temple at the QB spot. Last week vs. UMass, Marchi had his best showing to date, going 22 for 37 with 248 yards and three touchdown tosses. Starts to games haven’t necessarily been the best for Marchi as taking time to settle in has been a prevalent theme throughout his first three contests. A sound start for Marchi will be imperative in a hostile environment on Thursday. On the season, Marchi has thrown for 767 yards and five TDs.

Marchi has spread the ball around this season, as the Owls have four wideouts with over 100 yards receiving — Keith Kirkwood (185), Isaiah Wright (180), Adonis Jennings (146) and Ventell Bryant (107). Bryant’s numbers come in just two games as he missed the opener vs. Notre Dame with a hamstring injury. While Wright led the way last week with four grabs for 69 yards andaa TD, Kirkwood has been Marchi’s favorite target. The 6-foot-3 senior has 12 grabs and two TDs on the season.

The Owls’ running game has yet to get our of its early-season funk. Junior Ryquell Armstead broke off a 56-yarder last week, but still just finished with 35 yards on his other 16 carries.  He’s Temple’s leading rusher this year with 177 yards. The Owls have just 283 yards (113th in the nation) on the ground through two games and just a single rushing touchdown — a 1-yard dive by fullback Nick Sharga.

To say the Temple defense has been inconsistent this year would be an understatement. After the Owls were scorched on the ground by Notre Dame in the opener to the tune of 422 yards and 5 TDs, the last two games have seen the Owls get carved up through the air. Through three games, Temple is 119th in the land with 488.7 yards allowed per game. The Owls are 116th in the nation with 1466 total yards allowed and 120th with 943 passing yards allowed. Needless to say, there better be some improvement this week or things could get ugly … fast.

Scouting South Florida
South Florida’s prolific offense, which is averaging 40 points per game over the first three contests of the season, is lead by star senior QB Quinton Flowers, just as it has been for the last several seasons. Flowers is the Bulls’ motor that can send them into overdrive at the blink of an eye. This season, the shifty Flowers has thrown for 678 yards and eight TDs. A steady threat with his legs, Flowers has also rushed for 243 yards and two TDs. He’s got a history of being a thorn in the Owls’ side. In South Florida’s 2015 win over Temple, Flowers threw for 230 yards and two TDs while rushing for 90 yards and another score. Last season, he threw for two more scores while rushing for 90 more yards and a touchdown.

Flowers is a legit rushing threat to the point where Temple deployed Haason Reddick as the QB spy when the teams met last season. But Flowers is only the second leading rusher on the Bulls. The top spot belongs to senior Darius Tice, who’s finally getting a chance to be a lead back as Marlon Mack has moved on to the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts. This season, Tice has 256 yards and four scores on the ground

On the outside, senior wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the Bulls’ leading receiver with 202 total yards and two TDs. Last week vs. Illinois, he had four grabs for 96 yards and a TD. Temple’s secondary needs to be wary.

There are points to be had on South Florida’s defense, which allows a smidge under 21 points per game. The Bulls are known to let up yardage through the air as they give up 234 per game, in the bottom tier of the nation. It adds to why Temple needs to get Marchi into a rhythm early Thursday night. If the Temple passing game gets going early, Kirkwood, Jennings, Bryant and crew could find favorable matchups and do some damage. On the other hand, Thursday may not be the best time for Armstead and the rushing game to scoot out of the rut they’ve been stuck in. The Bulls’ rushing defense is stout, giving up just 89.3 yards per game, good for 14th in the nation during the young season.

History
Thursday evening will mark the fourth all-time meeting between Temple and South Florida in a series that dates back to 2012. The Owls hold a 2-1 series advantage, including a win in the last meeting — a 46-30 decision last October in Philadelphia.

Storyline to watch: Can Temple slow a speedy QB?
In recent years under Matt Rhule and former defensive coordinator Phil Snow, the Owls had stingy defenses, but those stingy defenses would have their struggles, sometimes mighty struggles, against QBs who were adept at using their legs.

While the core group of those players have moved on, there is still evidence that the same issue sticks within these Owls. In the season opener, Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush burnt the Owls for 106 yards and a TD on the ground.

While things have settled some with Temple’s rushing defense over the past two weeks, the unit hasn’t faced a mobile QB during that time. Flowers is an entirely different animal who can change a game with his legs in the blink of an eye. It’s almost like pick your poison. Is Temple going to let Flowers attempt to beat them with his arm or legs? It can’t be both, because he can use both with the best of them.

What’s at stake: AAC East supremacy
South Florida is the AAC darling this season, but the fact of the matter is that Temple, while flush with brand new faces, is still the defending conference champ and the two-time division champ.

The Owls can stake their claim to being a legit threat and make a statement in the AAC. Or they can have a statement made at their expense.

Prediction
With the way South Florida has been steamrolling teams and the experience edge, especially at quarterback, the Bulls just have too much talent and will assert dominance in this one. They will just overwhelm the young Owls.

South Florida 38, Temple 23

Temple tops USF in season finale, faces East Carolina in American tournament

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Temple tops USF in season finale, faces East Carolina in American tournament

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- Obi Enechionyia knocked down four 3-pointers and made five steals and Daniel Dingle scored 17 points with five assists as Temple ended the regular season with a 72-60 win over South Florida on Sunday.

The Owls (16-15, 7-11 American) played opportunistic defense, racking up a season-best 16 steals, helping to force 19 turnovers and scoring 20 points off turnovers. Temple also drilled 11 3-pointers.

Quinton Rose scored 13 points and led Temple with six steals. His half-dozen steals and Enechionia's five were career bests. Shizz Alston, Jr. also scored 13, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and adding six assists.

Geno Thorpe led USF (7-22, 1-17) with 21 points -- his seventh game of 20 or better this season -- and made five assists. Luis Santos added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Temple and East Carolina, the eight and nine seeds, play Thursday at the American Athletic Conference Tournament. USF is the 11th seed.