Five games into the season, Temple coach Matt Rhule has a good understanding of the growing pains associated with building a football program.

Recruiting the right players and getting players from the previous coaching staff to buy into your system are all part of the challenge.

But one thing the Temple coach has not had to deal with, unlike his counterpart in Friday night's game at Cincinnati, is being a grief counselor.

First-year coach Tommy Tuberville has had the difficult task of coaching a Bearcats team (3-2, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) that suffered a much bigger loss than any game when freshman offensive lineman Ben Flick died in a single-car accident Sept. 21 in Hanover Township, Ohio.

Flick's best friend, Sean Van Dyne, the driver of the car, died Monday. Teammates Mark Barr and Javon Harrison, also freshmen, were injured in the crash. Barr remained in the hospital in critical condition; Harrison was treated and released.

"You feel for the coach and really everybody. It brings to light what is important and why we're really here," Rhule said. "I think the one thing that you learn being the head coach is you look at all the players as people. For me, I think you have to bring stability to a program. And that's what Coach Tuberville is doing right now. His players need a man of character right now."

The Bearcats have been wearing Flick's jersey number, 77, in a sticker on their helmets. They will honor him with a pregame video tribute.

"I can't put into words how tragic this is," Tuberville said. "As a father and a coach, it's something you hope you never have to go through. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Flick family on their loss. We also hope and pray for Mark and Javon to recover from their injuries."

After the tragedy, the Bearcats, an 111/2-point favorite, turned the ball over four times and gave up 26 points with no offensive touchdowns in a 26-20 loss to previously winless South Florida.

The Bearcats will be playing in front of their home crowd at Nippert Stadium on Friday for the first time since defeating Northwestern State, 66-9, on Sept. 14.

The Bearcats will try to get back on track against a winless Temple team giving freshman quarterback P.J. Walker his first career start.

Cincinnati is ranked No. 4 in the nation in total defense, allowing just 251 yards and 17.4 points per game. Temple's offense has averaged just 15.8 points a game.

When the Bearcats beat the Owls, 34-10, last season, quarterback Brendon Kay, now a senior, was 13 for 21 for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This season Kay is 83 for 142 for 818 yards and seven touchdowns. He has been intercepted off four times.

Temple at Cincinnati

Friday at 8:30 p.m. Nippert Stadium.

Records: Temple, 0-5, 0-2 American Athletic Conference; Cincinnati, 3-2, 0-1.

TV/Radio: ESPN; WPHT-AM (1210).

Coaches: Matt Rhule, Temple (0-5). Tommy Tuberville (133-79 overall), Cincinnati (3-2).

Series: Temple leads the series, 9-5.

Three Things to Watch

1. If you're a Temple fan there is nothing more important to you than the way freshman quarterback P.J. Walker plays in his debut as a starter. He will be the third quarterback to start a game for the Owls this season.

2. Cincinnati will honor offensive lineman Ben Flick with a pregame video tribute. Flick, a freshman, was killed in a one-car accident on Sept. 21. It will be an emotional time and could bring inspired play from the Bearcats.

3. Temple hasn't rushed quarterbacks very well this season. Meanwhile, Cincinnati protects the quarterback well (four sacks allowed) and generates first downs (117). The Bearcats lead the AAC in both categories.

Three Things You Might Not Know

1. Neither of Temple's two starting quarterbacks from last season, Chris Coyer and Clinton Granger, now plays the position. Both are working out at tight end.

2. Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the nation in solo tackles per game (10.1). He is second in the conference in total tackles per game. UConn's Yawin Smallwood averages 13.8 to Matakevich's 13.4.

3. Temple has been outscored in the first half in all but one of its five games. However, the Owls have outscored Fordham, Idaho and Louisville by a combined score of 50-32 in the second half. Notre Dame and Houston held Temple scoreless in the second half.