Temple is playing its best football of the season. On Friday night, the Owls will visit a Connecticut team going in the opposite direction.
Temple can clinch the American Athletic Conference East Division title by winning its final three games against UConn, Tulane, and East Carolina, teams with a combined 9-16 record (2-12 in the AAC).
The Owls (6-3, 4-1) are riding their first three-game winning streak of the season after a 34-13 win over visiting Cincinnati on Saturday. Conversely UConn (3-6, 1-5) has a three-game losing streak and is coming off its worst effort, a 41-3 loss Saturday at East Carolina.
During the AAC football teleconference on Monday, UConn coach Bob Diaco was candid about the state of the Huskies.
"We are disappointed, everybody is disappointed in the results right now and we are regaining energy and steam with each day that passes," he said. "It is taking time and taking its toll."
Despite the Huskies' woes, Temple coach Matt Rhule expects a highly competitive game. "We have had great battles with them over the years," he said.
Last year, Temple beat the visiting Huskies, 27-3 to clinch the East Division title. The Owls held just a 10-0 lead at halftime.
In 2013, Rhule's first year, UConn won a 28-21 decision after trailing by 21-0 at the half. So Rhule will point to that game and last season's tight-for-a-half encounter to quash any feelings of overconfidence.
He likely won't show his team the league statistics that show UConn last in the AAC in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game. "We are not scoring and it creates a real problem during the game for the whole team," Diaco said.
Rhule vows that the Owls, 101/2-point favorites, won't overlook the Huskies before getting to their bye week.
Temple's at a point where it can't slip up, because Owls are tied for first place with South Florida, which just beat West Division leader Navy, 52-45. With a win over South Florida, Temple owns the tiebreaker.
Rhule said he still did not know the status of cornerback Artrel Foster, who injured his shoulder in the first half Saturday and did not return. Foster was to have tests on Monday. . . . For the second week in a row, Temple placekicker Aaron Boumerhi, a walk-on freshman, was named AAC special-teams player of the week. He connected on field goals of 26 and 27 yards and on all four PATs against Cincinnati. Boumerhi is 7 for 7 on field goals and has hit all 12 conversion kicks.