FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) — Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: Cincinnati 4-1, Temple 3-2.
Away Record: Cincinnati 3-2, Temple 2-3. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 0-0,
Temple 0-0. Conference Record: Cincinnati 5-1, Temple 3-3. Series Record:
Temple leads, 9-6-1.
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats will try to keep both their winning streak
and American Athletic Conference title hopes alive when they visit the Temple
Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday afternoon.
A three-game losing streak that lasted into mid-October pushed Cincinnati to
2-3 overall and outside of the AAC title chase discussion. All that has
changed in the weeks since, with the Bearcats rattling off five straight
victories, including last weekend’s 41-0 demolition of Connecticut. They are
now 7-3 overall and 5-1 in conference, although that one loss came against
first-place Memphis, so they still need some help to take control of the
Temple’s second half has been much different than that of Cincinnati. The Owls
were 4-1 midway through October, but they have lost four of their last six
games to fall to 5-5 overall. They also have a split of their six league
contests (3-3), although they lost a non-conference bout against Penn State
(30-13) when they last took the field.
When these teams clashed last season, Cincinnati pulled away for a 38-20
victory at home. The Bearcats have won four straight against the Owls, but
they still trail in the all-time series, 9-6-1.
Despite posting their lowest yardage total in the last five games, the
Bearcats still punched their way past UConn. They had 425 yards of total
offense in the contest, marking the eighth time this season they have eclipsed
the 400-yard mark. They are currently ranked behind East Carolina among AAC
teams in total offense (473.8 ypg), but no squad in the league is scoring more
than Cincinnati (37.3 ppg).
Gunner Kiel only threw for 161 yards against UConn, but he still made the most
of his 17 completions, as three went for touchdowns. Nobody in the AAC has
thrown more touchdown passes than Kiel this season and he certainly has the
talent to put up big yardage totals as well, with 2,646 this season on just
under 60 percent passing. He has been picked off 11 times, with errant passes
becoming habitual recently with five picks in his last three games.
Kiel has a number of weapons at his disposal, with Mekale McKay, Shaq
Washington, Chris Moore and Max Morrison all putting together solid seasons.
McKay (33 receptions, 604 yards, seven TDs) leads the squad in receiving yards
and touchdowns, while Washington (53 receptions, 573 yards, three TDs) has
snagged more balls than anyone else. Moore (24 receptions, 548 yards, six TDs)
and Morrison (36 receptions, 380 yards, four TDs) were both shut out against
UConn, which gave Johnny Holton (23 receptions, 375 yards, five TDs) a chance
to shine. He had 35 yards and a touchdown on four receptions in the contest.
Rod Moore and Mike Boone form a solid duo out of the backfield for the
Bearcats, with Moore piling up 502 yards and five touchdowns to Boone’s 454
yards and five scores. Moore picked up 108 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries
against UConn, marking his second 100-yard effort this season. Boone had 52
yards and a score. He has TDs in five straight contests.
What has held Cincinnati back this season has been its defensive performance.
The Bearcats are only ninth in the AAC in yards allowed (451.3 ypg), although
they do rank second in sacks (27), thanks to conference-leader Terrell
Hartsfield (8.0 sacks).
P.J. Walker has not always excelled in making plays under pressure, so
Temple’s offensive line has its work cut out for it this weekend. There have
certainly been some flashes of brilliance from Walker this season, but there
have been some crippling low points as well. In total, he has thrown for 1,866
yards and 12 touchdowns on just 53.3 percent passing, while being picked off
14 times. He was particularly erratic against Penn State, finishing with four
interceptions and a single touchdown, as well as 187 yards, on 17-of-38
The backfield could be without one of its key components this weekend, as
Kenneth Harper is listed as questionable with a leg injury. That would place
quite a lot of pressure on leading rusher Jahad Thomas, who has managed 376
yards on 76 carries, but has yet to record a rushing touchdown, something
Harper has done five times on the ground alone.
The receiving corps is rather weak for the Owls, with Jalen Fitzpatrick (41
receptions, 625 yards, six TDs) the only player with more than 300 yards
Temple has maintained a solid resistance on the defensive side of the ball,
ranking fifth in the league in yards allowed (364.4 ypg). The Owls have been
especially strong against the pass, as one of three teams in the AAC yet to
allow more than 2,000 passing yards. They also have a league-leading 19
Kiel will need to be careful against the ball-hawking Owls. If he can limit
his mistakes the Bearcats should have no trouble otherwise, as they should be
able to get pressure on Walker and keep Temple from getting into a rhythm on
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 38, Temple 24