After Saturday’s 20-17 win over then-No. 21 Maryland, Temple (2-0) will play its first road game of the season Saturday at Buffalo (1-2).
Here are five things to watch:
Not having a letdown
All week, Temple has been told how great it has been after knocking off the Terrapins last week. Now, the Owls will be a double-digit favorite. So will the Owls be complacent after such an impressive win, especially against a Buffalo team coming off a 35-17 loss at Liberty?
Coach Rod Carey insisted earlier this week that the Owls made so many mistakes against Maryland and that those will have to be cleaned up against Buffalo. There is also the fact that Buffalo beat the Owls, 36-29, last year at Lincoln Financial Field.
Plus, Carey knows the Bulls well. His Northern Illinois team beat Buffalo, 30-29, in last year’s Mid-American Conference championship game.
The players and Carey alike have said they are taking the Bulls seriously. It’s easier said than done, but this will be a good test to see if Temple can stay level-headed after such a big win, which earned the Owls points in both Top 25 polls.
Stopping the Buffalo ground game
Buffalo is averaging 225 yards rushing, which leads the MAC. The Bulls have two major threats in sophomore Kevin Marks (6-foot, 200 pounds), who has rushed for 274 yards (5.1 avg.), and sophomore Jaret Patterson, (5-9, 195), who has rushed for 230 yards (4.4 avg.) and one score. Quarterback Matt Myers also has rushed for 107 yards (3.8 avg.) and a touchdown.
The Bulls even rushed for 183 yards in a 45-13 loss to Penn State, although they averaged just 3.17 yards per carry. Marks hurt Temple last year by rushing for 138 yards and a 22-yard touchdown on 25 carries.
Improving special teams
Temple had a rough day on special teams Saturday, and that’s putting it kindly. There were a fumble on a punt return, a bad snap on another punt that led to a safety, a missed 34-yard field goal, a 55-yard punt return allowed, and a 7-yard shanked punt. In addition, Isaiah Wright averaged just 19 yards on three kickoff returns.
Carey has made special teams a high priority this week, and this is one area that should show drastic improvement.
Dealing with the Bulls offensive line
Carey said the strength of Buffalo is both lines. The offensive line is the most experienced unit on the team, with four of five starters back from last year. Senior left tackle Evin Ksiezarczyk (6-6, 310) and senior right guard Tomas Jack-Kurdyla (6-4, 300) have started 29 and 32 games, respectively.
Look for the Bulls to attempt to pound the ball in the running game.
Last week, one of the keys for Temple’s win was winning the battle in the trenches. Maryland, which has a potent ground game, was limited to a 3.5-yard average in 46 carries. The Owls also put plenty of heat on quarterback Josh Jackson, with four sacks.
A bounce-back game for Russo?
To show how far Temple quarterback Anthony Russo has come, last week the redshirt junior threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns and didn’t feel as if he had a good game. While he had his moments, Russo was up and down, and so was the offense. There were some missed throws, one interception (and another interception that was wiped away by a Maryland penalty) and no real consistency.
Yet Russo did lead Temple to its eventual winning score, a 7-yard, fourth-quarter TD to Kenny Yeboah that completed a 14-play, 76-yard drive. That was Temple and Russo at their best and an indication of how potent the Owls can be when all things are clicking.
Temple at Buffalo
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., UB Stadium, Buffalo, N.Y.
TV/radio: ESPNU/97.5 The Fanatic.
Records: Temple, 2-0; Buffalo, 1-2.
Coaches: Temple, Rod Carey (2-0; overall, 54-30); Buffalo, Lance Leipold (24-29; overall, 134-35).
Last meeting: Sept. 8, 2018, Buffalo won, 36-29, at Lincoln Financial Field.
Series: Buffalo leads, 13-4.