Check out the first quarter and if that isn’t a big enough sample, then the entire first half. How Temple fares early in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference matchup at Lincoln Financial Field against Central Florida will tell if the Owls have shaken off last week’s 45-21 loss at SMU.
Both Temple and UCF are 5-2 (2-1 in the AAC) and each needs a win to realistically stay in contention with Cincinnati (6-1, 3-0) in the AAC East.
UCF likes to jump on teams, having outscored them 111-14 in the first quarter and 106-36 in the second. That’s a 217-50 edge over the first two quarters.
So if Temple is hanging its collective head over allowing six touchdown passes by Shane Buechele in last week’s loss, the Owls will be in trouble.
One thing in Temple’s favor is that the Owls are 4-0 at the Linc, including wins over two teams that were nationally ranked at the time, Maryland and Memphis.
What is worrisome is that defensive linemen Ifeanyi Maijeh and Quincy Roche were injured against SMU and while Temple coach Rod Carey feels they will be ready, there is no assurance. If one or both isn’t at 100 percent, that could hurt the Owls because they need to put heat on freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
Maybe we’re putting too much on the home-field advantage, but if the Owls survive the first half, they should do enough to prevail in the second.
Prediction: Temple 28, UCF 27