FACTS & STATS: Site: Yulman Stadium (30,000) — New Orleans, Louisiana.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Temple 3-3, Tulane 2-3. Away Record: Temple
2-3, Tulane 1-5. Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record:
Temple 3-4, Tulane 2-5. Series Record: Tulane leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Needing a win in their final regular season game in order to
become bowl eligible, the Temple Owls take on the Tulane Green Wave on
Saturday in American Athletic Conference action.
With a win over East Carolina at the start of last month, the Owls appeared to
be well on their way to earning an invitation to the postseason, but since
that 20-10 shocker in Philadelphia Temple has dropped three straight outings,
which means it is now or never.
Last weekend, the Owls hosted Cincinnati and were held to a season-low six
points in an eight-point setback to the Bearcats. With the loss, Temple dipped
to 3-4 in conference, which has the team sitting in sixth place in the AAC
standings heading into action this week.
While the Owls are fighting for their postseason lives, Tulane is just looking
forward to getting the season over with. The Green Wave has a total of only
three wins on the books, and one of those came against Southeastern Louisiana
back in the middle of September. On Nov. 22, Tulane was dealt a 34-6 setback
by East Carolina, the squads’s second consecutive loss and the fourth in five
Tulane won the only previous meeting between the squads back on New Year’s Day
in 1935 by a score of 20-14 in the Sugar Bowl.
The Owls scored the only points of the first quarter against Cincinnati, a
field goal by Austin Jones, but for the rest of the meeting Jones was again
the only factor on the scoreboard for the hosts with another conversion midway
through the third quarter. Temple managed to generate a mere 267 yards of
offense, but at the same time limited the Bearcats to 255 yards in order to
keep the game close.
Quarterback P.J. Walker converted 19-of-35 passes for 196 yards and was sacked
three times, while adding another 33 yards on the ground, second only to
Kenneth Harper who came up with 40 net yards on nine attempts.
On defense, Matt Ioannidis and Sharif Finch both tallied two tackles for loss,
the latter registering the lone sack of the game for the Owls. Boye Aromire
forced and recovered a fumble as his major contribution to the cause.
Through 11 games, Ioannidis has just 44 stops, but one-fourth of them have
come behind the line of scrimmage and he is also one of the leaders with 3.5
sacks as well. As a unit, the Owls rank 31st in the nation in limiting
opponents to just 354.5 ypg, which has led to only 18.8 ppg, which makes the
Temple scoring defense 11th nationally this week.
Walker, who has taken the bulk of the snaps for the offense, has completed
53.4 percent of his passes, but he has more INTs (14) than TDs (12) which is
one of the reasons why the Owls have had issues scoring points (24.3 ppg) more
often than not. With the passing game lacking and the rushing attack posting
only 109.2 ypg, it is not hard to see why the Owls rank 117th nationally in
total offense with just 304.9 ypg.
If the Owls thought they had a struggling passing attack, they need look no
further than across the field this weekend to find another squad that can’t
seem to do much through the air. Tanner Lee, one of several players to have
attempted a pass this season for Tulane, is hitting his targets 55.8 percent
of the time and is averaging 205.9 ypg. However, like Walker for Temple, he
too has but 12 aerial scores against 14 picks, and for that reason the Tulane
pass efficiency rating is just 104.24 (118th in the FBS).
There are three players with at least 400 yards rushing, but none has more
than four rushing TDs, which either means the squad has great balance or
simply has not found a single standout to hitch its wagon to. The same goes
for the receiving corps which has four players with at least 21 receptions,
but only one of them has more than just a single TD grab.
The numbers on the defensive side of the ball are slightly more favorable,
with the Green Wave coming in 61st nationally with 391.5 ypg allowed. Nico
Marley, a grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley who is second on the team in
total stops with 74, leads the unit with 11 stops behind the line of
scrimmage, while much further down on the total tackles list is Royce LaFrance
(33 tackles) who is second with 11 TFL and first with six sacks. while Parry
Nickerson is one of the nation’s best in pass coverage with his six
As long as the Temple defense is front and center in this meeting then the
visitors certainly have a chance at extending their season. However, Walker
and the Owls offense will have to get into the end zone at some point to make
that dream a reality.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 17, Tulane 7