Temple (6-3, 4-1 AAC) at Connecticut (3-6, 1-5 AAC)
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field
Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN2
After nine straight weeks of games, Temple has one more before its first bye week of the season.
The Owls travel up to East Hartford, Conn. on Friday to play UConn in what coach Matt Rhule described as a “regional game.”
The Huskies come into the game struggling, losing five of their last six games. The Owls are on a bit of a hot streak, winning three in a row.
Let’s take a look at the American Athletic Conference matchup.
The plan has been simple in Temple’s current three-game win streak: Run the ball. Temple’s averaged 54 rushing attempts over the past three weeks, averaging 264 yards on the ground per game. The Owls haven’t lost this season when they’ve run for more than 100 yards.
The run game has also complemented quarterback Phillip Walker. The senior has completed 65 percent of his passes for 408 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the team’s last two games. He threw 10 picks in Temple’s first seven games.
The Owls held Cincinnati to 13 points and 186 total yards of offense last week. They didn’t give up any points in the game’s last 38 minutes. The key was not giving up any big plays. Temple’s defense didn’t allow a play longer than 19 yards last week.
Junior safety Sean Chandler returned to the secondary for the first time since Sept. 24, totaling four tackles.
UConn coach Bob Diaco demoted offensive coordinator Frank Verducci and promoted running backs coach David Corley after last week’s 41-3 loss to East Carolina. That’s because only two FBS teams are averaging fewer than UConn’s 18.3 points per game.
Senior wide receiver Noel Thomas is the Huskies’ biggest threat on offense. His 84 catches rank No. 3 in the FBS. The 6-1 wideout could give Temple’s secondary problems.
UConn’s defense, specifically it’s defensive front, presents a tough matchup for Temple’s offense. The Huskies rank No. 26 in run defense. Rhule said UConn’s defensive line provided a challenge for his team. Mikal Myers, a 325-pound redshirt-senior defensive lineman, was one of the names Rhule mentioned specifically.
Storyline to watch: Isaiah Wright returns home
Rivals.com ranked Temple freshman running back Isaiah Wright the No. 3 recruit in Connecticut last year. Wright, a West Hartford native, has 32 carries for 174 yards for the Owls in seven games. He’s been used in a variety of ways this season, including playing quarterback in the Wildcat formation. He’s gotten at least six carries in consecutive weeks. Look for Wright to make an impact playing against his hometown team.
What’s at stake: Keeping control of the division
Earlier this week coach Matt Rhule said he wanted to see his team win the division rather than another team lose it. The Owls have three games left on their schedule. UConn is the next step to getting back to another conference championship game.
After blowing a 21-point halftime lead against the Huskies three years ago, Temple has outscored UConn 63-13 over the past two seasons. UConn isn’t very good this year, while Temple played some of its best football of the season on offense and defense last week.
Temple 27, UConn 9.