FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UConn 0-5, Temple 1-4. Away Record: UConn 0-4, Temple 0-5. Neutral Record: UConn 0-0, Temple 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 0-5, Temple 0-6. Series Record: Temple leads, 9-4.
GAME NOTES: The last two teams in the American Athletic Conference without a league victory will match up at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday as the Temple Owls clash with the Connecticut Huskies.
With nine losses in as many games this year, UConn is not only trying to get into the win column in league play but trying to gets its first victory of the season overall. Last weekend the Huskies took a trip to Dallas and were sent home with a 38-21 defeat at the hands of SMU. The Huskies have been playing under interim head coach T.J. Weist as Paul Pasqualoni was fired following the team's 0-4 start. However, Weist has not been able to get the Huskies in the win column either.
Last weekend Temple nearly ended its losing ways in conference action in a major way but the Owls fell short in a 39-36 loss to first-place UCF. The Owls held a 36-29 lead with just over a minute to play but an incredible touchdown reception from the Knights; J.J. Worton and a last-second field goal doomed the Owls to their sixth loss in as many tries against the AAC. Temple has managed to earn one win during the campaign, thanks to a 33-14 win over Army.
Jalen Fitzpatrick caught a 14-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in regulation and Brian McManus nailed a 29-yard field goal in overtime to lift Temple to a 17-14 win over UConn last year. The win was the ninth in 13 all- time meetings for the Owls.
Other than South Florida there is no team in the AAC that is performing worse than UConn on offense. The Huskies rank second to last in the league in both total yards (297.6 ypg) and scoring (16.2 ppg).
Chandler Whitmer started the year under center after which Tom Boyle took over. Boyle threw eight interceptions and did not have a touchdown pass in four games and on Saturday Casey Cochran got his first start of the year. Cochran threw for 227 yards on 25-of-42 passing and also had two touchdown passes. However, Cochran was also guilty of a pair of interceptions. Expect Cochran to be under center again on Saturday.
Geremy Davis has managed to be a productive receiver even with the uncertainty under center. Davis leads the team by a wide margin in receptions (47) and receiving yards (697). Davis had 77 yards in that contest and has had at least 50 yards in all but one game this year. Shakim Phillips (28 receptions, 406 yards, three TDs) is a solid second option.
Running the ball for the Huskies has been the responsibility of Lyle McCombs, who is coming off his second 100-yard effort of the season against the Mustangs. McCombs has rushed for 599 yards and four scores on 129 carries this year, while Max DeLorenzo (229 yards, two TDs) has been a nice change of pace as a backup.
UConn has been better on defense than on offense though it still needs to produce at a better rate on that side of the ball. UConn is sixth in the AAC in total defense (402.4 ypg) but that hasn't stopped teams from scoring 35 points per game, the second worst scoring average of any team in the AAC. Yawin Smallwood (94 tackles) is third in the AAC in total tackles and anchors the unit.
Although moral victories don't wind up in the standings the Owls can take a lot of positives out of their loss to UCF. The normally stagnant Owls picked up 518 yards of total offense, their second effort of more than 500 yards this year. That is quite a jump for a team averaging just 388.2 yards per game.
The Owls struggled to find the right player at quarterback but P.J. Walker has really taken to the job since taking over as starter after the Louisville game. Walker threw for career-highs in yards (382) and touchdowns (four) against UCF, while completing 26-of-44 pass attempts. Walker has thrown for 1,476 yards and 15 scores this season, while completing 61.6 percent of his passes. Walker has also only been picked off six times in seven games. Walker is the first quarterback since Adam DiMichele in 2008 to throw for 15 or more touchdowns.
Walker has also rushed for 241 yards and two scores this season but the rushing duties have been handled primarily by Kenneth Harper and Zaire Williams. Harper has rushed for 540 yards and nine scores this season and is coming off a 77-yard performance against UCF. It ended a three-game streak of 50 or fewer yards for Harper. Williams (492 yards, two TDs) struggled against the Knights with just five yards on four carries.
Robby Anderson (31 receptions, 614 yards, five TDs) has become a vital part of the offense since Walker took over. Anderson caught eight passes for 184 yards and two scores against UCF and that wasn't even his best effort of the year. Against SMU, Anderson caught nine passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick (34 receptions, 410 yards, three TDs) and Ryan Alderman (30 receptions, 401 yards, two TDs) have also been in the mix.
The downside of the loss to UCF, other than the result, was the lack of defense for the Owls. Temple was abused for 657 yards of total offense in the loss and is now last in the AAC in yards allowed (522.8 ypg). The Owls are the only team in the conference letting up more than 450 yards per game. That is despite the efforts of Tyler Matakevich, who leads the country in solo tackles (92).
Walker has proven that he can handle running the offense and the Owls illustrated how well last week. The Owls won't have to worry about getting into a shootout this week as the Huskies are far from an offensive juggernaut.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 26, Connecticut 14
Saturday, November 23, 7 p.m. (et)