Both teams set everything they do offensively off the run game. Toledo is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, while limiting opponents to 3.3 yards per rush. Temple averages 4.1 yards per rush and is allowing 3.8 yards per carry. In Temple's three losses, the Owls allowed 5.4 yards per carry against Notre Dame, 6.8 against South Florida and 5.8 against Houston. Of course much of the damage by those three teams was inflicted by the quarterbacks. In Toledo's case, quarterback Phillip Ely has not been a factor in the running game, averaging 1.0 yards on 25 attempts. Still, led by Kareem Hunt (894 yards, 5.5 avg. 10 touchdowns) the Rockets can wear teams down with their running game, so look for Temple to substitute freely on defense to keep fresh bodies in the game.
In one of the more impressive statistics, Ely has only been sacked four times in 375 passing attempts. He gets rid of the ball quickly and also has a strong offensive line, led by 6-foot-8, 310-pound left tackle Storm Norton, a first-team all-Mid-American Conference choice. Temple's offensive line has done a solid job protecting P.J. Walker, who has been sacked 17 times this season.
Toledo coach Jason Candle says that he necessarily won't game plan against Temple all-American linebacker Tyler Matakevich, but that his team must account for him on every play. Matakevich has great lateral movement and closes in quickly on ballcarriers. He is most effective when teammates such as all-conference defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis are able to occupy more than one blocker, freeing Matakevich to fill the gap. Ioannidis doesn't always accumulate big defensive statistics, although he does have 10.5 tackles for loss. He is among the strongest players on the team and his ability to tie up more than one blocker has been a big factor in Temple's defensive success. That must happen for Matakevich to be a major playmaker.
Both teams' success in the passing game has come from their depth. Toledo has five receivers with three or more touchdowns receptions (compared to three for Temple). Temple has eight players with 10 or more receptions, while Toledo has seven. The Rockets have 41 big plays in the passing game (receptions of 20 or more yards). Temple, in two more games, has 36. Toledo has three players averaging 17 or more yards per catch, led by Cody Thompson, who is averaging 21.4 yards on 33 receptions. Yet some would consider Alonzo Russell their top receiver. He has 33 receptions (17.8 avg.) and a team-high five touchdowns. The key for Temple will not only be to get top receiver Robby Anderson loose, but to have the supporting cast come up big. In the 24-13 American Athletic Conference championship loss to Houston, Anderson had a career-high 12 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown. The other Temple wide receivers accounted for just nine receptions for 93 yards. More production will be needed from the receivers to complement Anderson.