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Tulsa vs. Temple Prediction: AAC Teams Eager to Get Back into the Win Column Meet on Friday Night

Golden Hurricane have lost three in a row while the Owls are hoping to snap their two-game skid.

It wasn't pretty for the Temple Owls last week. But the future? Well … there's reason to believe with the son of an NFL Hall of Famer at the controls.

Quarterback E.J. Warner wasn't the reason Temple got trampled by the UCF Knights 70-13 in Week 7. But Kurt's kid could well be the key to what lies ahead for the Owls, including Friday night's tilt against the incoming Tulsa Golden Hurricane to Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 8

"I'm happy people are recognizing E.J. the person," Temple head coach told Stan Drayton of the rave reviews being drawn by Warner. "It's great to grow up with a dad with a legacy that way. But E.J., from Day 1, wanted to make a name for himself."

A win over Tulsa would further his cause. While the Golden Hurricane can hardly be considered top opponents, every little step counts in not only Warner's progression but the team's improvement.

The Owls are a timid 2-4 on the year and 0-2 in conference action heading into the American Athletic Conference meeting. It's the same records as their foes from Oklahoma, who've lost three straight after a promising start to the schedule.

But Tulsa faced tough competition in losing 35-27 to then-No. 16 Ole Miss, 31-21 to Cincinnati, and 53-21 to Navy. And they're coming off a bye-week they believe has helped them prepare for the second half of the season.

"The bye week's been going good," Golden Hurricane defensive tackle Owen Ostroski said on the Tulsa World's weekly TU podcast. "It's nice, halfway through the season, to have a week where your practices can be a little lighter and not take as much of a beating as you normally would. It's nice to be able to be a little less physical with your bodies, to give yourself a chance to heal up."

Tulsa at Temple

Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Tulsa -13
Tickets: As low as $91 on SITickets.com

When Tulsa Has the Ball

Tulsa's QB is certainly not a first-year guy. Davis Brin is a senior who can sling the ball as well as anyone in the AAC. And he's got one of the most productive pass-catchers in his arsenal, as Keylon Stokes is third in the nation with 765 receiving yards on 44 catches.

Now if the Golden Hurricane can only get the ground attack going.

"We got to get our run game more established," Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery told reporters. "I probably gave up on the run a little bit too quick (in the last game), but we got to be better in that area."

Indeed, it wasn't pretty in the loss to Navy, rushing for just 25 yards. And Temple may just be the team to help Tulsa turn that around. 

Last week against UCF, the Owls' defense allowed a whopping 304 rushing yards as part of an ugly 737-yard surrender. But maybe just chalk that up to the effectiveness of the Knights, who rank second in the nation in rushing offense. Their run game has that tendency to hurt even the top run-stop units.

Temple's defense has otherwise been better than most teams in the FBS ranks this fall. And it'll have to be solid again in defending against Brin, who has thrown for 1,839 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions for the Golden Hurricane.

Against Navy, Brin was 20-of-31 passing for 284 yards, while fellow senior Stokes caught seven passes for 152 yards, including a giant 76-yarder.

Another bright spot for Tulsa on the game was the leaping, two-handed grab by Malachai Jones. The sophomore receiver went up between two defenders and caught the ball while falling into the endzone for a first-quarter score.

So Tulsa's got good-hands men.

When Temple Has the Ball

The spotlight is certainly on Warner. He seems to be like dear ol' dad — able to get the job done no matter the pressure. Warner is 86-of-153 passes for 1,040 yards, with six TDS and six interceptions.

Last week, he was 24-of-43 for 234 yards in the lop-sided loss to UCF. Not bad … especially for a freshman. And especially one behind an offensive line that's been battling injuries.

"We can move the ball with a young quarterback," Drayton told reporters. "We just have to build a consistency, and we'll grow from that."

Senior receiver Jose Barbon has grown quite well into a clutch role for Temple. He has three 100-yard games, including hauling in seven catches for one TD and 103 yards in Week 7. So it certainly wasn't all bad last week for the Owls against Central Florida.

But the run game was its usual quiet self, as Temple rolled up just 59 rushing yards. On the campaign, the offense has run to the fourth lowest amount of yards on the ground (478), averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. So it really is about the pass game and what Warner can make happen.

However, if they'd like to get off the matt where the ground attack is concerned, there might be no better opponent against whom to do that than the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa has allowed 239 rushing yards per game, which is the fourth-worst mark in the nation. Last week, Navy and its triple-option attack steamrolled to 455 yards.

Perhaps it's time for the Temple offense to find a little balance to help put behind two consecutive road defeats that saw it score just a combined 16 points.

Final Analysis

Both teams are looking to bounce back from butt-kickings in Week 7. And both should see this meeting as a prime opportunity to do just that.

"Every opportunity is a great opportunity to learn," Drayton said. "We have an opportunity to learn who we are as a football team as a result of this loss (to UCF). I need to see how they're going to respond to this."

It'll make it easier for Drayton's charges to respond positively on home turf, where they've won two of three games, but those two Ws did come against weaker competition — 30-14 over FCS Lafayette and 28-0 over UMass.

Tulsa, on the other hand, is winless in three road contests on the year but did win last season's head-to-head 44-10, with Brin and Co. building a 27-0 halftime lead.

But Friday opens up a whole new chance for the Owls to put everything behind them. The same goes for Temple.

"Their competitive nature has really gotten them over the hump emotionally of what they had to endure from the UCF game," added Drayton. "The moment you lose your energy and that edge, then you lose everything. … I don't feel that in our kids. I don't feel that in our coaches."

Should be a close one, with pride in play.

Prediction: Tulsa 35, Temple 27

Podcast: Week 8 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread

– Written by Todd Saelhof, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sports editor/writer for Postmedia in Canada. Follow him on @ToddSaelhofPM at #CollegeFootballFrenzy.

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