Three years ago it became official. The Owls were nixed from the Big East Conference, due to poor play and a lack of quality facilities. In the Owls place are the Connecticut Huskies who will fill their void.
This will be the first and only time these teams meet as conference foes.
Although history and the current state of the Big East are against them, the Owls need a win.
Temple (1-6, 0-2) will travel to Connecticut for the ninth time in a series that dates back to 1963. Temple is 7-1 in the series with UConn’s (4-2, 1-2) lone win coming in the second meeting in 1964. In their last meeting the Owls came away with a 38-24 triumph.
Saturday will be the third consecutive Homecoming game the Owls have participated in, following Rutgers’ last week and Temple’s own the week before.
The Owls are coming off a 16-6 loss at Rutgers last Saturday, a game in which they had an early advantage in nearly all the offensive statistics. Temple produced more first downs (17-10), yards rushing (141-90), yards passing (219-93), and total yards (360-283).
It was the first time in 27 games that Temple failed to score a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Walter Washington proved his accuracy by passing to eight different players for the second straight week, including four completions for 67 yards to sophomore receiver Jamel Harris, who set career-highs in both.
Unfortunately, Washington also proved he is far from being able to carry the team on his own. He committed four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions, including the final two of the game to put it out of reach for the Owls. Coach Bobby Wallace called the final minutes of play, “a total offensive meltdown. Same for the kicking game.”
Temple produced a completely different image on defense. The Owls intercepted four passes, their most since a 29-10 victory in the 1990 season finale at Boston College. Senior safety Sadeke Konte, junior linebacker Rian “Goo” Wallace and junior cornerbacks Jermaine Hargraves and Andrew Turner all had interceptions. Despite the players’ not being 100 percent, Wallace appreciated their contribution.
“It’s good to have them healthy. They played extremely well,” he said.
The five takeaways for the Owls are the most the defense forced this season.
“Saturday was by far our best performance defensively,” Wallace said. “I thought the defense played extremely well.”
UConn plays its home games at Rentschler Field. The noise level in the 2-year-old stadium could cause trouble for Temple. The stadium holds 40,000-plus fans and this Saturday could be the fifth sellout of the season for the Huskies.
UConn is coming off its first home defeat of the season in a 31-19 loss to nationally ranked West Virginia. Senior quarterback Dan Orlovsky averages 276.3 passing yards per game, both tops in the Big East. Sophomore Cornell Brockington has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau in four of his five career starts.
According to Wallace, “[he’s] the best back we’ve played in a while.”
On defense, Huskies senior linebacker Alfred Fincher leads the Big East in tackles with an average of 12.8 a game. Fellow senior linebacker Maurice Lloyd, is not far behind at fifth with 9.0 a game.
Lloyd is a former high school teammate of Washington, but they will be on opposite sides of the ball for their reunion.
The Owls have outgained their last two opponents, despite losing both games. In the Big East, they are second to last in red zone offense and last in red zone defense.
Donnell Jackson can be reached at email@example.com.