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Temple and Central Florida like looking in the mirror

When Temple visits Central Florida on Saturday in an American Athletic Conference game, the Owls will be facing a team with many similarities, at least statistically.

When Temple visits Central Florida on Saturday in an American Athletic Conference game, the Owls will be facing a team with many similarities, at least statistically.

Road success is not one of them.

Temple (3-3, 1-1 AAC) has yet to win on the road, losing at Penn State and last week at Memphis, both by 34-27 scores.

Central Florida (3-2, 1-0) is 2-1 on the road after its most recent game, a 47-29 victory over East Carolina on Oct. 1. UCF's lone road loss was a 51-14 defeat at No. 4 Michigan.

The Knights' home game last Friday with Tulane in Orlando was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew.

Other than the road records, here are some of the similarities:

Scoring offense: Temple (33.0 ppg.); UCF (35.2 ppg.).

Scoring defense: Temple (22.7); UCF: (24.8).

Scoring margin: Temple (10.3); UCF (10.4).

Red-zone offense: Temple (92.6 percent); UCF (94.1 percent).

Third-down conversions: Temple (34.7 percent); UCF (33.7 percent).

Third-down conversion defense: Temple (30.3 percent); UCF (29.8 percent).

"Offensively, UCF attacks a lot of different ways," Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "They are good up front on the defensive line as anybody we will see and they play extremely fast."

Even the coaches' comparisons are strikingly similar.

"On defense, Temple is sound and aggressive and runs to the ball well," said UCF coach Scott Frost, who has done wonders after taking over a team that went 0-12 last year. "Their quarterback is a guy that can beat you in different ways and they have several guys in the backfield that can hit a big play on you."

That quarterback is senior Phillip Walker, who has had an uneven first half of the season, with eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

This appears to be a game in which the team that can strike with the big play will win.

For UCF, a potential big-play performer is Tre-Quan Smith, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt sophomore wide receiver, who was AAC rookie of the year last season. As a freshman, he had 52 receptions for 724 yards and four touchdowns.

This year, the Knights are running the ball more. Smith has 16 receptions for 221 yards and two scores.

In Temple's 30-16 home win over the Knights last year, Smith was limited to two receptions for 17 yards.

Senior running back Dontavious Wilson is another major offensive threat. He has scored a team-high eight touchdowns.

That is as many scores as Temple's main home run threat, senior running back Jahad Thomas.

Last year, Thomas rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Knights.

Thomas has rushed for 237 yards in four games after missing the first two with a thumb injury.

He has not carried the ball more than 16 times in any game this season after having eight games of 20 or more carries last season. Look for Temple to attempt to get Thomas going early.

On defense, both teams have playmakers. Temple defensive end Haason Reddick leads the AAC with 12 tackles for loss (2.0 per game). UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin is fourth in this category, averaging 1.40 per game.

Temple is the defending East Division champion, but the loss to Memphis has the Owls needing a win to stay in division contention.

There is one other similarity: Both teams are fighting to become bowl-eligible.

Temple needs to go 3-3 in its final six games and there don't appear to be any surefire wins on the schedule.

That doesn't mean the Owls can't win the majority, but they have yet to show the week-to-week consistency Rhule is looking for.