Temple had many impressive moments in last week's 52-40 loss to undefeated Central Florida. The Associated Press voters actually dropped UCF two places in the poll, to No. 11, after the win. Now, the Owls (5-4, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) hope to go one step further when they visit Houston on Saturday at 7 p.m. It will be homecoming at Houston and the Cougars (7-2, 4-1) are smarting after losing 45-31 at SMU. So Houston won't be in a good mood, but will its leaky defense be able to handle Temple? Houston is last in the AAC in passing defense, allowing 326.3 yards per game.
The Cougars face Anthony Russo, who is coming off a 444-yard, four-touchdown effort against UCF. Temple expects Houston all-american defensive tackle Ed Oliver to return after missing the last two games with a right knee bruise. (Houston coach Major Applewhite lists him as day to day.) Oliver would no doubt make a difference, because he would occupy multiple blockers. Even in games with Oliver in the lineup, the Cougars have allowed 27.1 points, so Temple should be able to score.
The question is whether Temple can stop fleeting quarterback D'Eriq King, who is responsible for 42 TDs – 30 passing and 12 rushing. Houston averages more points per game (47.7) than the team that just put up 52 against Temple. If the defense finds its footing, then Temple could pull the upset. Yet the combination of last week's loss to SMU, the expected return of Oliver, Houston's career record against Temple (6-0) and the Owls' showing on defense last week, leads to Houston to be the pick.
Prediction: Houston 45, Temple 40