Memphis traveled to Lincoln Financial Field a year ago with a high-powered offense run by a future NFL first-round pick and stumbled against Temple.

The Owls won, 31-12, and limited Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch to 156 yards passing and no touchdowns.

When the Owls visit Memphis in an American Athletic Conference game on Thursday, they will face a team with a new coach and quarterback. But one question remains: How good are the Tigers?

Under first-year coach Mike Norvell, Memphis is 3-1 and has a win over a Big 12 team, albeit a poor one in Kansas. This will be the Tigers' first AAC game.

Temple is 3-2 and 1-0 in the AAC, following last week's 45-20 home win over Southern Methodist.

Memphis lost, 48-28, last week at No. 14 Mississippi in a game in which the Tigers got to within striking distance with less than four minutes left in the third quarter before the Rebels pulled away.

Statistics don't tell the whole story when assessing the strength of Memphis. That's because one win was a 77-3 rout of Bowling Green that skewed all the numbers.

Temple coach Matt Rhule said he knows that when he looks at the tape he sees Memphis as a formidable opponent.

"Defensively, they have gone back to a 3-4 defense, and that sometimes has given us a little bit of trouble," Rhule said. "They have a tremendous linebacker - as good as anybody in the country - in Genard Avery, who dominated the Ole Miss game at times."

Avery, a 6-foot-1, 255-pound junior, finished with nine tackles against Ole Miss.

Replacing Lynch at quarterback is Riley Ferguson, a junior- college transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. He has 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions, but six of those touchdowns came in that Bowling Green rout.

"They have another great quarterback, and, just like the last couple of years, they are adept at scoring points," Rhule said.

The key for Temple is to be able to run the ball. That helps the Owls control the clock and keep their defense off the field. The Owls rushed for a season-high 244 yards against SMU last week.

That was needed because quarterback Phillip Walker had what he termed among his worst games at Temple. That came after he had consecutive strong showings against Penn State and Charlotte. He completed 7 of 18 passes for 124 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions last week.

"You play one [game] and let it go, and that is how I look at it," Walker said. "If I had a bad game, that was back then. So I am going to go out there and compete at a high level, play my game, fly around, and enjoy the game for four quarters."

@sjnard