Temple University football (5-2, 2-1 The American Athletic Conference) plays Central Florida (5-2, 2-1 The AAC) at home at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Here are three key matchups for Temple fans to watch.
For a second week, Temple will face a quarterback who is ranked in the top three of the conference for passing yards.
Knights’ freshman quarterback Dillion Gabriel is second in the conference with 2,000 total passing yards this season. Gabriel has 17 touchdown passes and a 60.20 completion percentage this season.
“This young kid [UCF] has playing quarterback, it’s game eight now he’s not young anymore,” coach Rod Carey said. “He’s not a true freshman anymore. He’s pretty seasoned now.”
Temple redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo is ranked fifth in the conference with 1,674 total passing yards. Russo has 14 touchdowns and a 58.80 completion percentage this season.
Russo completed 18-of-32 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown in the Owls’ 45-21 loss against Southern Methodist (7-0, 3-0 The AAC) on Oct. 19.
“We had that 24 hours, and I watched the film. We gotta make the corrections, and we are onto UCF this week.”
KNIGHTS’ RECEIVERS VS. OWLS’ SECONDARY
Knights’ junior wide receiver Gabriel Davis leads the team and conference in receiving yards with 833. Last week, Temple struggled to stop Mustangs’ junior wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr.
Roberson ranks second in the conference for total yards and compiled eight receptions, 250 yards and three touchdowns against the Owls’ secondary.
“[UCF receivers] have a little more size than SMU does,” Carey said. “They have a few more [receivers] they will put on the field than SMU did. If you’re big, run fast and catch the ball that is a good combination.”
The Knights’ second-leading receiver is redshirt-junior Tre Nixon who has 469 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Temple’s secondary gave up 457 total passing yards last week despite junior cornerback Harrison Hand making his third interception of the season.
Redshirt-junior safety Amir Tyler recorded 12 tackles and one tackle for loss against the Mustangs and was Temple’s defensive player of the week, Carey said.
“We gave up a lot of shots,” Tyler said. “We couldn’t really get into our groove as a defense, so it kinda threw us off a little bit.”
THE OFFENSIVE LINES
Central Florida’s offensive line has done a good job protecting the quarterback this season, only allowing 14 total sacks resulting in 86 lost yards.
Temple has recorded 18 sacks this season for a total of 108 lost yards.
The Owls are dealing with some injuries to two of their starting defensive linemen, Carey said.
Redshirt-sophomore Ifeanyi Maijeh and redshirt-junior Quincy Roche did not practice Tuesday, but Carey is hopeful both players will play on Saturday, he added.
Maijeh leads the Owls in sacks and is ranked third in the conference with six sacks. Roche is third on the Owls with three sacks this season. Neither player recorded a sack against the Mustangs.
“We have to win this week, senior linebacker Sam Franklin said. “We have to win out if we want another championship.”