Last weekend, when Temple traveled down to Navy, the Owls remained perfect in conference play moving to 3-0 and 4-3 overall, winners of three of their last four contests.
The last time Temple started 3-0 in the conference was in 2015. The team finished 10-4 and 7-1 in conference play. They made it to the conference championship and played in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl.
In order to remain perfect this Saturday, they’ll need to get past their toughest opponent yet, the 6-0 #20 Cincinnati Bearcats. This game for Temple is the first of potentially four games against ranked opponents. The other three being conference opponents UCF, Houston and USF.
With Cincinnati already being bowl eligible, it’s the first time since 2015 when they played in the Hawai’i bowl. The Bearcats are beating their opponents by an average of 18.4 points per game.
Cincinnati’s most impressive win came with their first win of the season against the Pac-12’s UCLA, 26-17. Their other five wins have come against Miami OH, Alabama A&M, Ohio, Connecticut and Tulane. Of the team’s six wins, four of them have been in comeback fashion as they were down 10 points at UCLA, 21 against Ohio, seven at UConn and four vs. Tulane.
This game might prove to be a defensive battle between the two squads, as Cincinnati ranks fourth in total defense and Temple ranks 27th. In passing defense, Temple ranks fifth in the nation and Cincinnati ranks eighth.
The Cincinnati offense is led by freshman QB Desmond Ridder. On the year thus far, Ridder has completed 82 of 125 passing attempts for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Ridder also serves as the offense’s second leading rusher with 68 rushes for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He has at least one passing TD in five-straight games and a rushing TD in four-straight games.
The Bearcats leading rusher is Michael Warren. He’s rushed for 675 yards and 11 touchdowns, totaling 100 or more yards in each of the team’s last three games. He’s the first Cincinnati RB to do that since 2010. He also had a career-long 81-yard touchdown run against Tulane, the second-longest TD run in school history.
TE Josiah Deguara has a team-high 21 catches for 296 yards and three TDs. He has a reception in all six games and entered the season with just 15 career receptions for 145 yards and no TDs.
As for the Bearcat defense, they are led by LB Perry Young, who leads the team in tackles with 29 despite missing a game due to injury. He’s led the team the last two weeks in tackles and loves to get into the backfield of opposing offenses.
Defensive tackle Cortez Broughton ranks second in the American Athletic Conference in sacks with 0.83 per game and third in tackles for loss with 1.83 per game. His season numbers, 5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, surpass his career numbers entering the season, 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
The Owls will look to bear down on defense this weekend as Cincinnati has gained over 400 yards of total offense in each of their last four games. They average 38 points per game and about even in splitting the plays during games averaging 255 rushing yards and 212 passing yards per game.
This weekend’s matchup will make it the 21st time these two teams have squared off dating back to 1973. Temple leads the overall series 12-7-1 after winning the last three contests against Cincinnati. However, the Bearcats have won three of the last four games in Philadelphia.
Last year when these two teams met, it was on Cincinnati’s turf under Friday night lights and Temple won handily 34-13. Let’s see if Temple will have the same luck on Saturday.
The game is set to kick off from Lincoln Financial Field at 12:00 PM on Saturday and will be broadcasted on ESPNU and you can listen in on WTEL 610 ESPN Radio. You can also listen in to WHIP Student Radio accessible through the iHeart Radio app and listen to the SportsDesk’s very own Vince Coll analyze the game.
Be sure to follow the SportsDesk on Twitter @TU_SportsDesk for all your game day coverage.