Cincinnati will provide a major challenge for the Temple when the No. 20 Bearcats (6-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) visits Temple (4-3, 3-0) in Saturday's noon homecoming game.
Despite the national ranking and being among eight undefeated Football Bowl Championship teams, Cincinnati comes to Philadelphia a 3.5 point underdog. The oddsmakers are likely not impressed with the Bearcats' schedule: their opponents are a combined 13-25.
Temple has played teams that are a combined 23-22. More impressively, the Owls have won four of five since Anthony Russo has taken over as the starting quarterback. Russo will face a Cincinnati unit that is third nationally in scoring defense, allowing 13.7 points per game.
One advantage Temple has is depth at receiver. While Ventell Bryant came up big last week with eight receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown in last week's 24-17 win at Navy, what has made Temple difficult to defend is that there are numerous receiving options.
Cincinnati is strong on both the offensive and defensive lines, which has led to their success, and running back Michael Warren (664 yards rushing, 5.4 yards per carry, 11 touchdowns) is a major threat. The key will be containing redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder, a true dual threat. Temple didn't have to worry about the Navy passing game, but now they face the Cincinnati spread offense. How they contain the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Ridder, will likely determine the outcome.
This one should be close, but we give the edge to the team which has played the better schedule.
Prediction: Temple 24, Cincinnati 20.