If you enjoy high-octane offenses airing it out throughout the college football season then this wasn’t eye candy. Cincinnati rolled into the Linc with a passing attack feared throughout the American Athletic Conference.
A one time Notre Dame transfer, QB Gunner Kiel has feasted on conference opponents. The Owls, however, countered with one of the top passing defenses in college football. Led by corners Tavon Young and Sean Chandler, the intriguing matchup of Kiel vs. the Temple secondary looked to be a plus for both teams.
On a frigid Saturday, both teams had difficulty warming up to the environment as both offenses were stagnant. The Owls were holding Kiel in check in the first but sophomore QB PJ Walker wasn’t making magic happen either.
Despite a 39 yard crossing route to transfer TE Collin Thompson, he threw behind wideout Jalen Fitzpatrick who was wide open on third down. In the red zone, the Owls were forced to kick the field goal and freshman Austin Jones nailed the kick to put the Owls up three.
Mistakes were a plenty, however. Walker scrambled outside the pocket on a bootleg, after the defense forced Cincy to punt, and was tackled from behind, losing the ball and the Bearkats recovered to set up shop on the three yard line.
Kiel wasted no time hooking up with his go-to wideout in Mekale McKay as the visitors looked to keep rolling.
The Owls also struggled on the ground. With a running back by committee approach, the trio of Kenny Harper, Jahad Thomas and Jamie Gilmore failed to amass 80 yards for the game. Harper “led” the team with 39.
Midway through the second, Cincy finds the end zone once again with RB taking the snap on a wildcat formation untouched.
The Owls would tack on another field goal by Jones but couldn’t churn out another touchdown as Cincinnati solidifies the 14-6 victory and moves to 8-3 on the season.
With minuscule production from the offense, and the rotating starters on the offensive line, the Owls have had a hard time matching other team’s production while trailing late.
Though they can have an all-conference wideout in Jalen Fitzpatrick, who played his final game at Temple for Senior Day, the talent isn’t evident in the receiving corps to garner enough attention consistently.
They will travel to New Orleans next Saturday to play the Tulane Green Wave in their last game of the season. At 5-6, the Owls hope to pull off that sixth victory and become bowl eligible for the first time in three years.