South Florida (2-3) at Temple (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: South Florida 1-2, Temple 1-1 Away Record: South Florida 1-1, Temple 0-1. Neutral Record: South Florida 0-0, Temple 0-0. Conference Record: South Florida 0-1, Temple 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: For the first time since 2004, the Temple Owls will play a conference game as a member of the Big East, when they host the South Florida Bulls at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
Largely considered to be a contender in the Big East this season, South Florida has been less than impressive. After wins in its first two games, Skip Holtz's squad has lost three straight, including a 23-13 loss to Rutgers in their only league tilt thus far. Most recently the Bulls took on powerhouse Florida State and fell to their instate rival 30-17 at home
Temple did not have lofty expectations heading into its return to the Big East. Still the Owls' 1-2 start, with both losses in their last two games, has been a bit of a disappointment. The Owls were just 2-17 over the last three seasons as a member of the Big East conference before being dropped at the end of the 2004 campaign.
These teams have never met before as South Florida did not join the Big East until the 2005 season. Still there is an element of revenge for Temple as the two schools did meet in the first round of this past year's NCAA Basketball Tournament with the 12-seeded Bulls taking out the 5-seeded Owls, 58-44.
It's no secret that B.J. Daniels is the most important player in the South Florida offense. Daniels has thrown for 1,285 yards and nine touchdowns this season with his passing totals ranking fourth in the conference. Daniels is also the team's leading rusher (271 yards) while tied for the team-lead with three rushing touchdowns. However Daniels has struggled with consistency, throwing seven picks, while completing 55.6 percent of his pass attempts.
Andre Davis and Terrence Mitchell have been the two targets Daniels looks for the most. Davis has caught 24 passes for 312 yards and three scores, while Mitchell has 20 catches for 318 yards and a touchdown. The only other player on the team with double digit receptions is Derrick Hopkins (10).
With Daneisl at the helm the Bulls are the fourth best offense in the Big East at 404.8 yards per game. However, they have failed to convert enough of those yards into point, ranking second to last in the conference in scoring (24.6 ppg).
The defense has also let the Bulls down this season with South Florida ranking second to last in the conference in total defense (392.4 ypg) and scoring defense (25.6 ppg). South Florida has struggled to get opposing teams off the field, as foes are dominating in time of possession (34:07 pg), while picking up more than 20 first downs per game.
Where the unit has excelled is in creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Bulls rank second in the league in total sacks (11) and sack yards (80) this season, led by the play of DeDe Lattimore, who has team-highs in tackles (39), tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5).
During Temple's recent resurgence that earned it a spot back in the Big East, the Owls' biggest weakness has been quarterback play. That has remained an issue this season. The Owls are the worst passing offense in the Big East (121.0 ypg) and the fifth worst in the nation overall.
Chris Coyer has taken every snap for the team this season and has completed only 45.5 percent of his passes (25-for-55) with four touchdowns and one interception. Coyer does bring another element to the offense with his ability to run the ball, as he is second on the team in rushing yards (197).
Montel Harris hasn't done much for the Owls since coming over from Boston College. The former All-ACC running back has played in three games and managed only 35 yards on 15 carries. Incumbent starter Matt Brown has been better, wit 33 rushes for 202 yards, but is coming off just a 26-yard effort in the Owls' most recent loss to Penn State.
Such a poor passing attack has meant that the Owls do not have a great number of talented or productive receivers. Thus far Jalen Fitzpatrick has led the team with 128 yards on six receptions. No other player has more than 62 receiving yards.
Temple's defense has also been in a period of adjustment this season and it has shown in the numbers, with the Owls ranked last in the conference in total defense (396.7 ypg).
The Owls have played only three games so in terms of individual statistics the squad has no real standouts, with Nate Smith leading the team in tackles (21) and Olaniyi Adewole, who is one of eight players with a sack, leading in tackles for loss (three).
South Florida desperately needs to put an end to its current losing streak if it wants to live up to its preseason hype. Until the Owls can create some sort of consistency in the pass game, their offense is too one-dimensional to beat teams on a week-to-week basis.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 24, Temple 14
10/03 10:40:02 ET