This weekend the Temple Owls will pay their first visit to Middle Tennessee State in a battle of the winless.
The game will mark the first time the Blue Raiders will face a team from the Big East since they joined Division I-A in 1999. It’s also the first time MTS will host a BCS (Bowl Championship Series) team at its home field.
In the Raiders’ (0-4) last game, they lost to (formerly 23-ranked) Missouri 41-40 in overtime. Despite the loss, they played well on the road against a strong opponent.
Temple (0-4), playing its third straight road game, lost to Louisville last week 21-12 and is desperate for a win. The Owls allowed 21 points in the first half against the Cardinals and continued to victimize themselves with costly turnovers and penalties.
Three keys to the game are:
Get the kicking game on track. Temple’s kicking game has gone from inconsistent to nonexistent. Missed field goals forced the Owls to attempt a fake field goal at the Cardinals 9-yard line that was unsuccessful.
Their next drive resulted in a touchdown, but kicker Jared Davis’ woes continued when he kicked the point after try into one of his lineman’s helmets.
On Temple’s second score, replacement kicker Roger Price missed completely. The Owls kicking game needs to turn around before the team can turn around.
Keep causing turnovers on defense. The Owls’ defense has done a fine job with keeping opponents from scoring, but in order for Temple to start winning games, the defense has to start causing turnovers.
At Louisville, the Owl defense caused three turnovers, which doubled their total turnovers for the first three games. With an explosive offensive attack, the Owls should win if they have fewer turnovers than the Raiders.
Finish off drives in end zones, not in red zones. With an unreliable kicking game, the offense will be forced to score touchdowns and not settle for field goal attempts or fourth-down trickery.
The offense has put up big numbers, 309 yards passing and 104 yard rushing a contest. Now it’s time for their offense to put up big points in which they’re averaging just 16.5 points a game.
Matchups to watch
Temple QB Mike McGann vs. Middle Tennessee secondary. McGann is averaging 264 passing yards a game, and over the past two games he has thrown for 777 yards.
In each of their first four games, the Owls have had a receiver gain at least 100 yards a game. The Raiders secondary is allowing 255 yards a game passing with just two interceptions to their credit.
Temple’s running game vs. Middle Tennessee’s front seven. Running back Makonnen Fenton has recovered from two cracked ribs and is likely to see action.
The Raiders struggle to stop the run, so this might be a chance for Temple’s rushing game to break out.
Middle Tennessee WR Kerry Wright vs. Temple DB Donnie Coleman. Wright has two 100-yard receiving games this season, which included a seven-catch, 144-yard effort against Missouri.
Coleman has one interception this season and is the Owls most experienced cover corner.
David Cargincan be reached at email@example.com