Temple (3-6) at Army (2-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Michie Stadium (38,000) -- West Point, New York. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Temple 2-3, Army 2-4. Away Record: Temple 1-3, Army 0-4. Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, Army 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 2-4, Army 0-0. Series Record: Temple leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: Fans of the rushing game are in for a captivating matchup this weekend when the Temple Owls travel to the Hudson Valley for a battle with the Army Black Knights at Michie Stadium.
A once promising season has been derailed for Temple which has lost four straight games. The Owls have not even looked competitive in those contests being outscored 161-54 during the losing streak. With only two games left on the schedule, Temple has been eliminated from bowl eligibility as its currently sits at 3-6 overall this season.
This season has not been very kind to Army either. The Black Knights are 2-8 on the campaign after being dropped 28-7 by Rutgers last weekend. The Black Knights were tied with the nationally ranked Scarlet Knights going into the fourth quarter but failed to close in the loss. Playing at home could help Army as both of its wins this season have come at home.
Temple has won the last four meetings between these programs to give it a slim 5-4 edge in the all-time series. Last season, the Owls rolled over the Black Knights en route to a 42-14 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
It has not been entirely by design but Temple has been an offensive squad that relies almost exclusively on its rushing attack. This is not a preferred gameplan decision by head coach Steve Addazio, but due to a lack of a passing game. Temple is the fifth worst passing team in the country(125.0 ypg). The four teams that the Owls lead are Air Force, Navy, Army and New Mexico, which are all teams known for the run-option offense.
Addazio may have finally had enough with the passing games struggles. Chris Coyer has been the starter all season but backup Clinton "Juice" Granger has seen more time in recent weeks. In the Owls most recent loss to Cincinnati, Granger played the most in a game he has this season completing 7-of-15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Coyer was pulled after managing to complete only 5-of-16 passes for 56 yards and an interception.
With such an obvious weakness on offense, the Owls need their rushing attack to produce at a high level. That was not the case against Cincinnati with the Owls managing 125 yards on 35 carries. Montel Harris (597 yards, 5 TDs) did not look like the back of the previous few weeks, finishing with 19 yards on eight carries. Getting Harris going will be vital going forward.
A look at the defense does not reveal any more encouraging news. Temple is ranked dead last in the Big East in both scoring defense (30.3 ppg) and yards allowed (426.0 pg). In fact Temple is the only team in the conference to be giving up at least 30 points and 400 yards per game.
In an otherwise dismal season for the unit, Tyler Matakevich has provided a spark. The freshman linebacker finished with eight tackles against Cincinnati to lead the Owls in the category for the sixth straight week. The effort did break a five-game streak of double digit tackles for Matakevich who leads the team in tackles on the season with 74. John Youboty added to his team-leading sack total in the game, with a pair of quarterback takedowns. He has five on the season.
Unlike Temple, Army is a team that does not pass much by design. Like its fellow military academies, Army is a run-first team that utilizes the option. The Black Knights have been most reliant team in the nation, and the most effective, when it comes to running the ball. The Black Knights average a 366.1 yards per game on the ground on 677 attempts, both tops in the nation.
The stable of backs that have contributed this season for Army are led by quarterback Trent Steelman and primary tailback Raymond Maples. Steelman has rushed for team-high 1,013 yards and 13 touchdowns and is the only player averaging more than 100 yards per game (101.3). Maples is right behind him with 965 yards on the season. Larry Dixon has also been utilized a good deal this season with 672 yards and six touchdowns on 115 carries. A fourth back, Malcolm Brown, has also been consistent (368 yards) but he is listed as questionable for this game.
Defense has not been a strength for Army. The Black Knights are allowing teams to score 34.4 points per game, on 426.6 yards of total offense. Running the ball so much has allowed the defense to be off the field for longer stretches with Army holding on average a five minutes differential in time of possession over its opponents.
Geoffery Bacon has been one of the most consistent tacklers in the country this season. The sophomore linebacker has racked up 112 stops, which is tied for fifth most in the country. His efforts have overshadowed the strong showing of Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires who has 78 tackles this season. Nate Combs has also turned in a solid campaign with a team-leading 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Neither of these teams is playing with the postseason in mind and neither features much in terms of passing. Although Army may have the more effective running attack, the Owls have more of a chance for balance and should be prepared enough to capture a win in West Point.
Sports Network Prediction Outcome: Temple 28, Army 21
11/14 10:40:02 ET