More often than not, playing a college football game on the road is a disadvantage.
However, hostile environments have proved to not faze the Owls.
As of September 30, Temple and fellow AAC rival UConn are the only two teams in the nation who have won at least two games in opposing stadiums. This Friday, after a week off, the Owls will set out to take sole ownership of that statistic. They play their third away game as they take on the Charlotte 49ers (2-2) in Jerry Richardson Stadium in downtown Charlotte. The Owls head into Friday’s matchup a convincing 22 point favorite, one of the highest in Head Coach Matt Rhule’s tenure.
This week’s matchup is shaping up to be a defensive showdown. The 49ers lead the Conference-USA in total defense behind Junior defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi. Charlotte has dropped their past two contests, the latest giving Florida Atlantic (1-3) their first win of the year. Co-starting quarterback Lee McNeill was intercepted four times in the loss while the 49ers offensive failed to register a single point. Back tracking just one week before that, the Charlotte defense was brutally exploited against Middle Tennessee State (2-2), taking a 73-14 beating. The 49ers allowed an eye-popping 659 total yards and 24 first downs to MTSU. This Friday, Temple will be looking to mimic the performance of Middle Tennessee State against a 49ers defense that has the ability to perform. However, they have shown they can easily be dismantled.
Coming off an inconsistent offensive performance, the Owls are set to turn things around with the ball in their hands and regain their productivity.
“We took a step back against UMass in the run game, we have to get that going again,” said Rhule.
After exploding for 238 yards the first two weeks, running back Jahad Thomas managed just 66 yards on 25 carries, averaging a season worst 2.6 yards per attempt.
Against Charlotte, the Owls are looking to take care of business at the line of scrimmage in order to get the offense flowing, in order to build momentum for the Owl’s defense. Tyler Matakevich and company will look to stop what Coach Rhule referred to as “the best back we’ve faced,” in 5-10 205 pounder Khaliff Phillips.
Phillips has rushed for 390 yards this season and is coming off of his best game this past Saturday where he pummeled his way for 165 yards. The 49ers trouble at quarterback has been displayed with the bobbling between Juniors Matt Jones and Lee McNeill. In fact, as if two starting signal-callers weren’t enough, Charlotte Coach Brad Lambert has thrown freshman Brooks Barden into the discussion. Any of the three could start against the Owls on Friday.
With Charlotte’s lack of stability at quarterback and the Temple’s ability on the defensive front, the Owls will have no trouble limiting points on Friday. As long as the offense can solidify a good running game early and P.J Walker can limit his mistakes, there should be nothing standing in the way. Temple is trying to start the season 4-0 — a feat the program has not accomplished since 1974.