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Temple Owls vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Preview and Prediction

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The second week of the season pits two teams hoping to grab an early lead in the American Athletic Conference division standings. Cincinnati, the preseason favorites in the conference, hosts Temple a week after the Owls celebrated one of the biggest wins in school history to open the 2015 season.

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Temple at Cincinnati

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN News

Spread: Cincinnati -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Can Temple’s defense do it again?

The 2015 season could not have started in a better way for Temple’s defense. The Owls sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg 10 times, forced a turnover and slammed the door shut on Penn State's offense after digging an early 10-0 hole. Temple’s defense is the strength of this Owls team, and it showed an ability to flip a switch and make some adjustments in the season-opening win last weekend in Philadelphia. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording three sacks in leading his team to victory. Can Matakevich and the Owls do it again in another big game?

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2. How much will Cincinnati attack on the ground?

Tommy Tuberville will try moving the ball through the air as often as possible with Gunner Kiel at quarterback, as well he should. The question is how much he chooses to try running the football against the Owls defense. Temple clamped down against the run last week, with only one long run really hurting Temple early in last week’s season opener.

Cincinnati rushed for 296 yard in its season-opening win against Alabama A&M last week, but Temple’s defense is significantly better. When Cincy does go on the ground, Tion Green and Hosey Williams should contribute.

3. How much does Temple have in the tank?

It seems rather strange to even bring up this question in the second game of the season, but considering the historical significance of last week’s win over Penn State it is a fair one to mention in Week 2. Temple laid it all out against the Nittany Lions last week and the celebration that followed was well deserved and a long time coming for the program. But the focus needs to be reset on a dangerous Cincinnati team on the road. If anything was learned last week, it is that Temple can make adjustments and overcome a sluggish start. But Cincinnati’s offense will look to attack through the air more than Penn State managed to do. Can Temple hang with the Bearcats?

Final Analysis

This feels like a bad spot for Temple, coming off a huge win for the program at home last week and heading on the road against a potent offensive team like Cincinnati. The Bearcats have some pieces in place to make a run in the American and, if some things fall into place elsewhere, potentially for the New Years Six. Cincinnati being at home should be enough of an advantage for the Bearcats to help them pull away from a promising Owls squad.

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Prediction: Cincinnati 26, Temple 17

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.