FACTS & STATS: Site: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,000)--Memphis, Tennessee Television: ESPNews. Home Record: Temple 1-5, Memphis 2-4. Away Record: Temple 0-5, Memphis 1-3 Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, Memphis 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 0-8, Memphis 1-5. Series: First-ever ever meeting
Game Notes: The Memphis Tigers close out their home schedule on Saturday afternoon as they host the Temple Owls in an American Athletic Conference matchup at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Owls, who have just one win in 11 games this season, will look to end their campaign on a good note. Last weekend, Temple dropped a stunner, relinquishing a huge second-half lead to fall to Connecticut, 28-21, as UConn's Yawin Smallwood returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown late in the game.
Meanwhile, Memphis fell 24-17 to Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville Cardinals. The Tigers are just 3-7 on the season, including a 1-5 mark in conference play. They will close out their 2013 campaign next weekend at Connecticut.
This marks the first time these two teams are meeting.
Memphis has certainly struggled on the offensive side of the football this year, as the team ranks second to last in the AAC in total yards (303.2 ypg) and eighth in scoring (20.3 ppg).
Paxton Lynch runs the offense under center and has thrown for 1,725 yards, with seven touchdowns against nine interceptions. Lynch has a couple of options on the outside, led by Joe Craig (33 receptions for 313 yards). Mose Frazier (17 receptions, 283 yards, two touchdowns) and Alan Cross (11 catches, two touchdowns) provide some depth.
Brandon Hayes, coming off an 86-yard performance against Louisville, leads Memphis with 789 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while Marquis Warford (302 yards, one TD) provides a change of pace.
Memphis is ranked third in the AAC in total defense (337.6 ypg) and fourth in scoring defense (20.2 ppg). A big reason for the team's strong play on this side of the football is All-American candidate Martin Ifedi up front. The 6-3, 265-pound junior has 43 stops on the season with more than a third of them coming behind the line of scrimmage (14.5), including 11.5 sacks. Linebacker Tank Jakes leads the team in tackles (62) with 8.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks.
Despite losing on a regular basis, Temple may have its quarterback of the future in freshman P.J. Walker, who took over as starter after the Louisville game and really showed potential in the narrow loss to nationally-ranked UCF. Walker has completed 60.6 percent of his passes, for 1,756 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 273 yards and three scores this season. The ground attack for Temple however, is led by Kenneth Harper and Zaire Williams. Harper has rushed for 556 yards and nine scores this season, while Williams is at 553 yards and three TDs.
Walker's favorite target down the field is clearly WR Ryan Anderson, who has caught 37 passes, for 695 yards and six TDs. Jalen Fitzpatrick (35 receptions, 417 yards, 3 TDs) and Ryan Alderman (37 receptions, 497 yards, 2 TDs) have shown glimpses of strong play as well.
Temple has definitely struggled defensively this season, giving up 30.6 ppg and ranking last in the AAC in total defense (496.8 ypg). Much like the offense, the Owls are led by a promising youngster on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich has made plays all over the field, with 129 total tackles to lead the conference. Senior DB Abdul Smith is a distant second on the team with 77 stops.
This is a matchup of two struggling programs. While Lynch and company have the homefield advantage in this one, Temple's near misses of late have the Owls hungry to end things on a good note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 24, Memphis 21
Saturday, November 30, 12 p.m. (et)