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In regular-season finale, Temple vows not to overlook 1-10 UConn

The Owls are 29-point favorites against a team that is last in scoring offense and scoring defense in the AAC.

Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell (3) tackles Cincinnati running back Michael Warren II (3) during a game at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell (3) tackles Cincinnati running back Michael Warren II (3) during a game at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff PhotographerRead moreTim Tai

Temple has been involved in so many recent close games that several of the young players haven't gotten a chance to get on the field.

With a new NCAA rule implemented this year, a player can appear in as many as four games at any time of the season and maintain his redshirt status.

If ever there was a time to get some of the younger players a little experience, it appears to be Saturday when Temple (7-4, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) visits Connecticut (1-10, 0-7) in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

The oddsmakers don't feel this will be much of a game, with Temple installed as a 29-point favorite. The Owls have enjoyed only one true laugher all year, a 49-6 win over visiting East Carolina on Oct. 6.

This could be the perfect game, for instance, to see freshman quarterback Trad Beatty in action. The 6-foot-5, 216-pound Beatty showed some promise in the spring game but has yet to step on the field in a real game.

Of course, the reaction of coach Geoff Collins was predictable when asked if this could possibly be a good game to see some of the younger players.

"I haven't even thought about it," Collins said during his Tuesday press conference.

Collins, like any coach, takes nothing for granted, even though UConn is last in the AAC in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Huskies are averaging 23.5 points and are allowing 49.8 points per game.

Temple is coming off Saturday's 27-17 win over visiting South Florida. The Owls trailed 17-0 at halftime before scoring 27 unanswered points. Temple is averaging 42 points in its last three games.

The Owls' biggest opponent on Saturday could be complacency.

Of course, the players feel that won't be a problem.

All the Owls have to do is recall last year when a 1-4 UConn team traveled to Lincoln Financial Field last year and beat Temple, 28-24.

"Last year when we played them, they didn't have the best record and we underestimated them," said defensive tackle Michael Dogbe, who leads the Owls in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (seven). "We let that game slip away."

The players insist there is no chance they have their sights on the bowl season just yet.

"We are not overlooking them," said safety Delvon Randall, whose spectacular, one-handed interception against USF gained plenty of national attention. "Their record doesn't match how athletic they are."

The most athletic is senior quarterback David Pindell, who is fifth in the AAC in rushing averaging 100.9 yards per game. He leads all quarterbacks in the nation in rushing yards with 1,110 and has scored 10 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 198-pound Pindell has passed for 1,873 yards and 18 touchdowns, along with 10 interceptions.

"Pindell is really explosive, is fast, can run through arm tackles and makes you miss," said Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell, who has four fumble recoveries this year. "He wants to be a quarterback and just won't take off and run from the pocket, but if it is a designed quarterback run, that is when he is really dangerous."

So as usual, Temple isn't listening to the outside noise and has convinced itself that UConn has the ability to present a worthy challenge, even though the oddsmakers and many others clearly disagree.

Temple at Connecticut

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Rentschler Field, Hartford, Conn.

Records: Temple, 7-4 6-1 American Athletic Conference; UConn, 1-10, 0-7.

TV/Radio: ESPNU/WTEL 610 AM.

Coaches: Temple, Geoff Collins (2nd season, 14-10); UConn, Randy Edsall (14th season, 78-89; overall, 100-123).

Series history: Temple leads 12-6, but UConn won the most recent game, 28-24 on Oct. 14, 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Three things to watch

1. The player who worries Temple the most is UConn senior quarterback David Pindell, who has rushed for 1,118 yards and 10 touchdowns and completed 174 of 291 passes for 1,873 yards and 18 TDs. Temple has had trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks and the key will be to keep Pindell pinned in the pocket and not let him get outside with his great speed. He is a true leader on one of the youngest teams in the country. UConn has played a total of 40 underclassmen (freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores), which is tied for fifth nationally. With such a young team, Pindell will have to have the game of his career just for the Huskies to remain competitive.

2. Temple started off sluggishly last week, trailing South Florida 17-0 at halftime, before storming back for a 27-17 win.  Temple safety Delvon Randall said the Owls weren't focused early in the first half of Saturday's win over USF. The Bulls got Temple's attention with that big first-half lead and then the Owls were a much better team. The players talked this week about coming out with a much better focus. A team like UConn, with nothing to lose, can play free and loose. In fact, coach Randy Edsall says his team has often not been playing it safe all season. UConn has attempted 21 fourth-down conversions, and has been successful 12 times (57.14 percent). The Huskies will gamble whenever possible.

3. Temple won't admit it, but the Owls would like nothing better than to settle this game early and allow the young players some time. Since it is a bus ride, coach Geoff Collins said more freshmen would be traveling this week to the game. A player can appear in four games and still maintain his redshirt status, so some players could see their first action. If the Owls, who are a 29-point favorite, can jump to a big early lead, it would allow the front-line players to depart early and be healthy for the upcoming bowl game.