We’re only off by one letter this week on Thursday, as the AAC takes the spotlight that usually belongs to the ACC. It’s entirely possible that the Temple Owls will be singing the blues after the October 6 game against the Memphis Tigers, but this could also be achance for Temple get its season back on track. These conference rivals will meet on the short week at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and ESPN will have the broadcast one day after we’re all treated to some Fun Belt action on the Worldwide Leader.
Temple vs. Memphis College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday October 6, 8:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Memphis -10
Memphis is laying double digits here even though the only team with a pulse that they’ve beaten is Southeast Missouri State. Blowout wins over Kansas and Bowling Green aren’t even worth participation ribbons with the state of those two programs. Nevertheless, you can only play who’s on the schedule and for Memphis, it’s been those three cupcakes and Ole Miss, who racked up well over 600 yards in a 20-point win. The Tigers are 3-1 straight up and 2-2 against the number for rookie head coach Mike Norvell. After losing as a two-touchdown favorite to Army, in a game that was originaly lined much higher, Temple has rattled off four straight cover and a 3-1 record straight up. The best team Temple has beaten is probably Stony Brook(?), so it’s safe to say that these two teams don’t have impressive resumes of success thus far.
It felt like Temple found something four years ago when PJ Walker injected some life into the Owls offense in Matt Rhule’s first season at the helm. He posted a 20/8 TD/INT ratio and completed 61 percent of his passes. Since then, Walker has a 38/30 TD/INT ratio. It feels like the four-year starter has regressed this season with a 55.1 percent completion percentage. Fortunately, Temple is still stout in the trenches, so they can run the football. Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas have combined for 513 yards on 97 carries and 12 touchdowns. Controlling the line of scrimmage would be key this week for Temple against a fairly explosive offense.
The Owls defense suffered a big loss when Tyler Matakevich went to the NFL, but this is a group that almost always seems to step up and be solid. That’s the case again this season, as Temple has allowed just 3.8 yards per carry and opponents have only completed 49.6 percent of their passes. Of course, Temple has played Army, who can’t pass, Stony Brook, Penn State, Charlotte, and SMU. It’s not hard to put up good numbers against that collection of opponents. The Owls will get a legitimate test this week against the best offense they have seen.
Mike Norvell hit the ground running, and throwing, with this Tigers offense. In his first three games as a head coach, his team put up 155 points on SEMO State, Kansas, and Bowling Green. The offense still managed 474 yards in last weekend’s loss to Ole Miss. Moving the football, especially through the air, wasn’t a problem. Former Tennessee recruit and JUCO All-American Riley Ferguson has an 11/5 TD/INT ratio with 1,186 passing yards on the season. Memphis has gotten 489 yards on 74 carries from Doroland Dorceus and Patrick Taylor Jr. This has been a good offense, but Temple is the best defense that they will have seen to date. You can make a case for Ole Miss, but Memphis gained 308 yards after halftime in a game that was 27-7.
The Memphis defense finally got tested and didn’t show up all that well. Ole Miss had 624 yards and 41 offensive points thanks to a pick six. The Memphis defense will get back to normal this week against a Temple offense that doesn’t have anywhere near the explosiveness that Ole Miss did. On the other hand, how will the Tigers fare in the trenches, where Temple is very strong? That’s the question here in this spot. Nobody that Memphis has played could own the line of scrimmage except the Rebels and they ran 44 times for 263 yards.
College Football Free Pick: Temple Owls +10
Temple should be able to dictate the tempo of this game by owning the line of scrimmage on offense. That’s the way to slow down a good opposing offense and the Owls did that last season in a 31-12 win when Memphis had current NFL QB Paxton Lynch under center. Memphis had 232 yards in that game and lost as a road favorite. There are quite a few things we don’t know about either of these teams, but we should find them out on Thursday.
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