The football team enters Thursday’s game against 1-7 Miami (Ohio) looking to clinch its first winning season since 1990’s 7-4 finish.
Another weekend, another Temple Owls victory.
The winning streak is now at six games after the Owls’ come-from-behind 27-24 win at Navy Saturday. The win improves Temple’s record to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the Mid-American Conference and makes the Owls bowl eligible for the first time since 1990.
The Owls have a short week, as they host Miami (Ohio) Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field in search of their seventh straight victory. Here are three things to watch from each team Thursday:
Running into the record books: Freshman running back Bernard Pierce single-handedly carried the Owls Saturday at Navy. Pierce rushed for 267 yards and had two touchdowns, as Temple rallied for its sixth straight win this season. Pierce already tops the list in rushing yards and touchdowns for a freshman. He also recorded his second straight 200-yard game. Paul Palmer was the last running back to do that in 1986. Pierce also became the first Owl to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for a season since Tanardo Sharps accomplished the feat in 2002. Pierce faces a Miami (Ohio) defense that has allowed more than 177 yards rushing this season. Another 200-plus yard game is certainly not out of the question.
In search of Robin: It is dangerous for the Owls to rely solely on the legs of Pierce.
Redshirt junior quarterback Vaughn Charlton was 5-for-17 for just 37 yards Saturday. One of Charlton’s two interceptions led to Navy’s 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. Charlton, who threw for four touchdowns in Temple’s two previous games, needs a bounce-back game and needs to keep Miami’s defense honest.
Avoid costly turnovers: To ensure their seventh straight victory, the Owls need to avoid turning the ball over. The Owls turned over the ball two times on offense and once on special teams, and those mistakes led to two of Navy’s touchdowns. Luckily, the Owls held on, but they can’t survive every week by turning the ball over numerous times.
First one is always the toughest: Before last Saturday, the RedHawks were 0-8 under first-year coach Mike Haywood. Win No. 1 came Saturday in an upset victory against Toledo. Miami (Ohio) led 24-7 at halftime and held on for a 31-24 victory. After playing the Owls, Miami (Ohio) hosts Bowling Green and Buffalo to wrap up the 2009 season.
An offensive outburst: The RedHawks, who have the worst scoring offense in the MAC, exploded for 31 points in their upset win against Toledo last weekend. Redshirt freshman quarterback Zac Dysert led the charge, throwing for 344 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for two touchdowns. Dysert has thrown for 692 yards and scored six touchdowns in his past two games.
Also avoid costly turnovers: If Miami (Ohio) wants any shot of competing with the surging Owls, the RedHawks need to keep the ball out of the defense’s hands. The RedHawks have a negative-19 turnover margin, by far the worst in the conference. Temple has a plus-five turnover margin and has forced eight fumbles and 11 interceptions this season.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.