Owls look to rebound against Pitt

Now what, Temple fans? The West Virginia Mountaineers clobbered the Temple Owls (1-3, 3-6) last weekend, 46-20, a game that saw them go down 40-0 at one point. Now they have to travel down the

Now what, Temple fans?

The West Virginia Mountaineers clobbered the Temple Owls (1-3, 3-6) last weekend, 46-20, a game that saw them go down 40-0 at one point.

Now they have to travel down the Pennsylvania Turnpike to play their in-state rival, the Pittsburgh Panthers (4-0, 7-2).

Even worse for the Owls, the Panthers are coming off one of their biggest wins in school history, an upset win against then No. 3 ranked Virginia Tech, 28-21.

Now No. 22 in the AP, and No. 23 on the ESPN/USA Today poll, the Panthers will look to roll over Temple, and stay hot for their big showdown at Miami on Nov. 21.

Temple, on the other hand, after last weeks disappointing loss, has to play out the rest of their games to try to finish with a .500 record.

For that to happen they need to come up with some major upsets against Pittsburgh and Boston College the following Saturday home Nov. 23rd.

Not to mention a game at Rutgers, a team that gave a scare to No. 2 Miami, next weekend. Funny how a season changes after one week of football.

“Maybe we talked too much on how big this game was,” said head coach Bobby Wallace.

“I wish I had the answers because this was by far the worst performance we had all year.”

On the flip-side, Pittsburgh’s season has changed for the better, and is nationally ranked for the first time in eleven seasons.

The Panthers’ rise to success started last season with a 33-7 drumming of Temple at the Vet which started a six-game tear for the Panthers which included a Tangerine Bowl win to end the season.

Led by sixth year head coach Walt Harris, Pittsburgh’s only slip-ups this season were against Texas A&M and Notre Dame, and over the last 15 games they have a mark of 13-2.

Offensively they are led by a balance attack through the air and ground.

The last two games their rushing game has stepped up and averaged 209 yards.

Running back Brandon Miree rushed for an amazing 161 yards on 23 carries against Virginia Tech, the conference’s number one rush defense. His 161 yards was a career high for the junior running back.

Pittsburgh’s young receivers had a lot of questions coming into the season, filling the shoes of Biletnikoff award winner Antonio Bryant and his partner in crime RJ English.

So far, true freshman Larry Fitzgerald and senior Lamar Slade are getting the job done for the Panthers.

Slade ranks fourth in the conference with 58.4 yards per game.

Fitzgerald is first in the conference with a whopping 72.0 yards per game and his three touchdown, 105 yard output against the Hokies last week earned him Big East player of the week honors.

With Temple’s injuries to their secondary, look for Pitt to exploit that region and keep them rolling towards a showdown with Miami.

“Pitt is really rolling and doing a great job ever since the middle of last season. It’s a big challenge for us,” Wallace said.

“This year they are in the best position of anyone in the league to challenge Miami at this point in time.”

Their defense has a lot to do with their success this season.

They are ranked number one in the conference, yielding only 276.2 yards per game.

The ferocious Panthers defense has forced 26 turnovers, with 14 of them being fumbles, and sacked the quarterback 22 times.

Temple’s much improved offensive line has only surrendered 11 sacks this year, but they must continue to stand tall in front of quarterback Mike McGann.

They will have their hands full with one of the best linebackers in the conference in senior middle linebacker Gerald Hayes.

Hayes leads the team in tackles with 85, including 12 for a loss.

He has sacked the QB twice and forced two fumbles.

In last season’s win against the Owls, he led the charge with seven tackles and obtained one of the Panthers nine sacks.

For the Owls, outstanding running back Tanardo Sharps, defensive tackle Danny Klecko and 13 other senior starters want to finish their Temple careers on a high note.

Matt Sitkoff can be reached at Phil14367@aol.com.

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