Friday Night Lights College Football Edition takes place on November 4 with three games, as Central Michigan takes on Miami of Ohio, San Jose State catches a big number at Boise State, and Temple takes on UConn. We’ll take a deep dive into that Temple vs. UConn matchup here, as these AAC rivals meet in what should be a defensive struggle. The Huskies are catching double digits at home with a total in the mid 40s, so those are always interesting matchups.
Temple vs. UConn College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday November 4, 7:30 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Temple -10
Temple has been a steady money maker for handicappers here this season. The Owls dropped their first game of the year 28-13 as a two-touchdown favorite against Army and people couldn’t sell Temple stock fast enough. Since then, the Owls have racked up eight straight covers and six wins in eight games. Temple has played one of the weakest schedules in the country, but they do have wins over South Florida and UCF in recent weeks. UConn is just 3-6 straight up and 2-7 against the number. Since covering in games against Cincinnati and South Florida, the Huskies have been overmatched in SU/ATS losses against UCF and East Carolina. Bowl eligibility is clearly a major long shot for Bob Diaco’s team this season.
A two-headed monster at running back headlines the Temple offense. Ryquell Armstead did a lot of the heavy lifting while Jahad Thomas was battling off and on injury problems. Those two backs have combined for 1,238 yards on 227 carries with 20 touchdowns this season. It’s pretty clear what Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas want to do. They want to run the rock and use their strengths on the offensive line to their advantage. Temple has run the ball 365 times against just 258 passes. Phillip Walker is another reason why the Owls have passed so much. Walker has completed less than 58 percent of his passes with a 13/10 TD/INT ratio. Thomas is the team’s third-leading receiver, so there hasn’t been a lot of vertical passing for the Owls this season. The Owls are tied for 64th in passing plays of 30+ yards.
Temple’s defense isn’t quite as a strong as it was last season and this is when the test really begins for Matt Rhule and his staff. He’s been at the school as the head coach for four seasons now, so Steve Addazio’s recruiting classes have moved on. Refilling the roster and reloading are big tests for any young head coach. That’s not to say that Temple’s defense has been bad by any means. They have allowed 22.7 points per game and have held opposing teams to just 4.9 yards per play. The Owls have only allowed 3.8 yards per carry. In recent weeks, the Owls have asked faced some decent offensive teams, like Memphis, UCF, South Florida, and Cincinnati. Those teams have averaged 25.5 points per game.
If you want to make the case that Temple’s defense hasn’t been challenged much this season, don’t expect UConn to be a team that presents a big test. The Huskies are not good offensively. Bryant Shirreffs has completed 58.7 percent of his passes, but only has a 7/6 TD/INT ratio. Arkeel Newsome has rushed for 4.5 yards per carry, but bad offensive line performances and play designs have forced Shirreffs to carry the ball 144 times for just 2.3 yards per attempt. As a result, the Huskies only average 3.3 yards per carry. Any team with a shutdown corner can make life difficult on UConn. Noel Thomas has caught 83 of the team’s 173 completions for 1,058 of the 2,112 yards. That’s why he’s only caught three touchdown passes. The Huskies have managed just 18.3 points per game and five yards per play.
As usual, the defense does everything it can to keep the team in games. Given the level of competition and the lack of an offense, the fact that UConn has allowed 27.6 points per game is fairly impressive. They’ve allowed 5.7 yards per play, but most of that has been through the air. They’ve held opponents to just 3.8 yards per carry. The chess match between coaches is always fun to watch. Will Temple try to expose UConn through the air or keep doing what they do best? Will UConn stack up as well against more of a power rushing attack? Those are the things that you want to consider when handicapping any game, but especially this one.
College Football Free Pick: UConn Huskies +10
Ten points seems like a lot for this conference clash on a short week. It’s not a long or taxing trip, but it’s still another game away from home against a team off of an embarrassing 41-3 loss the previous week. The worry here is that UConn could hold Temple’s offense down and still not score enough to cover, but the Huskies have played the stronger schedule and they’ve held up fairly well against the stiffer competition.
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