After a rough start to the season, Temple is off to a 2-0 start in conference play and looks to make it a clean 3-0 this weekend as the Owls visit Navy in an American Athletic Conference crossover matchup. Navy is looking to snap a two-game losing skid after back-to-back road losses.
Geoff Collins has found a way to shake off a poor start for his Owls by winning three of the last four games, and the only loss was a back-and-forth affair on the road against Boston College. With some challenges upcoming on the schedule, Temple may end up needing a win this weekend in order to keep bowl hopes alive down the stretch. Navy, on the other hand, is hoping to climb back to .500 instead of falling two games under before its own upcoming difficult stretch.
Temple at Navy
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Temple -7.0
Three Things to Watch
1. Temple QB Anthony Russo coming off best game of the year
Owls sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo threw four touchdowns in last week's 49-6 blowout of East Carolina. Russo completed 21-of-25 passes for 254 yards, marking his second game in a row with at least 250 passing yards. The performance was certainly inspiring for Russo and the entire Temple offense after he had gone the two previous games without a touchdown pass, with four interceptions. If he can continue that kind of production and efficiency, Temple's offense will be in much better shape than it was at the start of the season.
2. Temple defense against the Navy option
The Owls have fared well against Navy in recent meetings. Last year, Temple limited Navy to just 136 rushing yards and no touchdowns in a game played in Philadelphia after a bye week following a game against Army. Maybe Temple was just in the right defensive mindset going up against a similar offensive style for the second game in a row and having a week to prepare. That won't be the case this week, as the Owls are coming off a game against East Carolina, but Navy had some offensive struggles last week against Air Force. If Temple's defense can find ways to get off the field and not allow Navy a chance to milk the clock and wear down the Owls defensive front, they should be in a good spot.
3. Concerns about Malcolm Perry?
After last week's loss at Air Force, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo was asked whether he had any concerns about running the offense with Malcolm Perry. Niumatalolo did not put any blame or extra pressure on his quarterback, who rushed for 54 yards and completed 2-of-6 passes for 36 yards last week against Air Force. Perry has rushed for just 87 yards in the last two games, which goes against the grain for what is expected of the point man in Navy's option offense, although Perry did have 100-plus rushing yards in each of Navy's first three games. We'll see if Navy can get Perry back on track this week.
Navy has certainly had a few struggles early on this season and is in serious need of a win this week. Returning home to play in Annapolis, where the Midshipmen are 2-0 this season, should help put Navy back in a comfort zone, but Temple has been playing quite well in the last few weeks. Look for the Owls to try to get Russo in a rhythm early on in the passing game while running back Ryquell Armstead tries to get going on the ground after suffering an apparent ankle injury. If Armstead is close to full speed, then Temple should have enough firepower to get out of Annapolis with a third straight conference win to remain unbeaten in the AAC.
Prediction: Temple 27, Navy 24
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of @Temple_FB)