In order to reach six victories and become bowl eligible, Temple must win four of its next seven games.
The team has a 63 percent win probability against East Carolina and a 71 percent win probability for its game against Connecticut on Oct. 14, according to SportSource Analytics. Despite that, the Owls have a higher chance of finishing with five wins than with six.
Coach Geoff Collins still isn’t treating Saturday like a must-win game or placing more weight on it than any others.
“Every single thing we do in this program is important,” Collins said. “Every single day is important. Every single practice is important. Every single walkthrough is important. Every single film session is important. Every single game is important. The second you start weighing importances then I think that’s when things fall apart.”
Temple (2-3, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) ran for 150 yards in the second half against Houston on Saturday and finished with 142 to record its best performance of the season. The Owls hope to build off their second half against one of the worst run defenses in the Football Bowl Subdivision on Saturday against East Carolina (1-4, 1-1 The American) in North Carolina.
East Carolina’s 297.6 rushing yards allowed per game rank 127th out of 129 FBS schools. The Pirates are coming off a 30-point loss to South Florida, which is ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Pirates allowed 390 rushing yards to the Bulls on Saturday. They opened the season by allowing 410 rushing yards in a loss to James Madison University, a Football Championship Subdivision school, and haven’t held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing since their win against Connecticut on Oct. 29, 2016.
Temple ran for 256 yards to beat East Carolina 37-10 in the 2016 regular-season finale at Lincoln Financial Field.
“We could run outside zone, we could run inside zone,” redshirt-senior offensive lineman Cole Boozer said. “I believe that we’re going to be able to run the ball. We’re going to be physical, we’re going to be able to run the ball.”
In the second half, redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi didn’t turn over the ball until the game’s final play. Marchi’s two first-half interceptions against Houston both came on throws of 10 yards or more.
With 11 minutes, 12 seconds left in the second quarter, Marchi dropped back to pass on third-and-10 from the Cougars’ 36-yard line. He took a hit as he threw downfield toward redshirt-senior wide receiver Keith Kirkwood. Houston junior safety Garrett Davis intercepted the ball near the Cougars’ 7-yard line.
Marchi threw a pass intended for redshirt-freshman Kenny Yeboah, who was double-covered, with less than two minutes in the first half. Junior cornerback Isaiah Johnson intercepted the ball after it took a deflection and went high into the air.
He hopes to be more careful with the ball against East Carolina.
“Just finding what the defense gives you, the short throw,” Marchi said. “You don’t always have to take a shot, and you don’t always gotta make a play with your arm. Just take what the defense gives.”
In Temple’s first two league games, Marchi has a 42.6 percent completion percentage with 214 yards, six interceptions and one touchdown. In three nonconference games, Marchi completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 767 yards and five touchdowns. He started the season with 109 consecutive passing attempts without an interception before throwing three in Week 4 against South Florida.
“I know everyone wants to talk about the fourth game, but the first three games he played well,” coach Geoff Collins said. “And I think the fourth game, just collectively as an offense and I know the quarterback is going to take a lot of the hit, but collectively as an offense we didn’t play great. …I thought the things we did Saturday with Logan fit his game.”
“The tempo of the offense in the second half, we had a faster tempo,” Marchi said. “We were getting a body on a body in the run game. The run game looked good. Anytime we can run the ball like that, we have a great chance of winning the game.”