It’s homecoming, and it’s a long time coming for the Owls. After making stops in Ohio, Massachusetts, and finally North Carolina, Temple football is finally coming home to Philadelphia. Fresh off a 37-3 win at Charlotte, the program is 4-0 for the 1st time since 1974. They’ll be looking to push that record to 5-0, a feat accomplished only six times prior in the history of the pigskin on North Broad. Standing in their way is a 12:00 matchup with AAC foe Tulane tomorrow.
Tulane currently sit at a 2-2 record. After losing their first two games to national caliber squads Duke and Georgia Tech, the Green Wave have bounced back and are riding a hot streak.
Last Saturday, the defense forced five turnovers in a 45-31 win over UCF in New Orleans. More importantly, the contest served as QB Tanner Lee’s coming out party. The sophomore came up huge, tossing four touchdowns without turning the ball over. His success has led a dynamic offense in averaging 41 points the past two weeks. Temple will have to combat this in order to keep their high-flying offense in check. Temple has shown flashes of brilliance against opposing QBs. The 2015 defense is allowing only 52% of passes to be completed, while reeling in seven interceptions and forcing eight fumbles.
The Owls will also have to keep their eyes on the Tulane rushing attack. In each of the last 3 games, a different back has run over 70 yards fort the Green Wave. While that total has been in part to big rushes, it still poses a threat to the Temple defense. They allowed 223 rushing yards last week against the 49ers, and has shown flashes of being exposed against Penn State. Tavon Young, Tyler Matakevich and company will have to keep both options in check.
However, the other side of the ball is what will prove to be the difference. While Tulane remains solid on offense, the defense is far from that. Opposing offenses have had no trouble, dropping 46 points per game against the Green Wave. Complimenting that stat, the Temple offense continues to light up the scoreboard. The Owl’s are scoring more than 30 points a game behind the poise of P.J. Walker and the resurrection of the running game. Jahad Thomas has run for over 100 yards in 3 of 4 games, and Robby Anderson established himself as a premier red zone threat by hauling into two touchdowns.
Matt Rhule has stressed the offense’s difficulty of starting out hot in the 1st quarter. The offense has 13 total 1st quarter points this year, and has looked slow and out of sync. That weakness has to be fixed to avoid digging the Owls into a hole.
The Owls are playing too well right now to let the homecoming game slip through their fingers. The team has shown in Week 1 what they are able to do with Owl Nation at their back. With a huge crowd expected at Lincoln Financial Field, the team should play just as they did against Penn State: with physicality, passion, and most importantly, talent. There’s a reason this team is 4-0 and is slated by some ESPN experts to be in a New Years Bowl Game. They’re a cohesive bunch and, now more than ever, they want to win. Temple should have no true obstacles pulling out a W tomorrow.