Temple Football (3-2) will travel South on Thursday to take on the Memphis Tigers (3-1) at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Temple began a stretch of 8 straight conference games last week, and started hot- defeating SMU 45-20. Memphis will look to avoid losing two games in a row, as they fell to #14 Ole Miss last week in their first true test of the season. Temple will come into the game as underdogs (+10) for just second time this season.
Match-ups to Watch:
Temple Offense vs. Memphis Defense
Temple’s offense finally looked to be in full stride last week against SMU, scoring 45 points and rushing for a season high 248 yards. Temple’s offense has received a surge as of late due to the 1-2 punch of halfbacks Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas. Through five games, Armstead has rushed for 313 yards on 52 carries- averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Thomas missed the first two games, and has managed 200 yards on 45 carries- 6 of which went for touchdowns. Armstead alike has 6 rushing touchdowns on the year.
Armstead took his game to a new level last week, rushing for a career-high 159 yards with 2 touchdowns. With an eye-popping average of 10.6 yards per rush, Amstead said after the game that Saturday was “by far” the best he has played during his collegiate career.
One thing hasn’t gone as planned so far this season for the Owls- the passing game. Senior QB Phillip Walker is in his third full season as a starter, and his completion percentage is just over 55% through five games. He has thrown 7 interceptions compared to 6 touchdowns. The lack of productivity through the air has set Temple among the worst in the conference in total offense per game, averaging just over 350 yards per game.
Walker will be throwing at a defense who has allowed just over 18 points per game through four games, which is good for 25th in the nation. The number’s are a bit deceiving however, as the Tiger’s first three opponents are a combined 4-11. In addition, Ole Miss put up a season-high in points (48) and total yards (624) against the Memphis defense.
Memphis Offense vs. Temple Defense
The Tigers have a clear advantage on the offensive side of the ball, and in their matchup against 14th ranked Ole Miss they didn’t disappoint. They tallied 474 yards of total offense, and 75% of those yards (355) came from the right arm of first-year starting quarterback Riley Ferguson. Ferguson replaced current Denver Bronco Paxton Lynch at the position this season, and he has been nothing but efficient. The 6’4 junior has completed over 66% of his passes on the season to go along with 11 touchdowns. His production has led to the Tigers scoring 45.8 points per game, which ranks 6th in the country.
The signal-caller’s favorite target this season has been the speedy, 5’11 junior Anthony Miller. Miller has tallied 405 yards this season to go with 2 scores. He also can be a factor in the run game, as he has 76 yards rushing on the season with another touchdown. Seven receivers on the Memphis offense have caught 6 or more passes, so it’s likely Ferguson will be spreading the wealth around. In the backfield, the Tiger’s have a 1-2 punch of their own in Doroland Dorceous and Patrick Taylor Jr.. Dorceous serves as the starting back, and he has totaled 250 yards on 44 carries. Taylor Jr. has racked up 239 yards on just 30 carries- and he’s been a spark when he touches the ball.
The Owls will be playing without significant defensive contributor’s in junior DB Sean Chandler and senior LB Stephaun Marshall. Out for the season will be DL Shariff Finch and Jullian Taylor. Also, senior LB Avery Williams will be a game-time decision for the Owls. The unit will need to stay true to their positions if they want a shot at slowing down this Memphis offense.