Temple tries -- yet again -- to get Matt Rhule his first win and to avoid its worst start since 2006 …
Temple (0-6, 0-3 American) vs. Army (3-4)
Lincoln Financial Field - Philadelphia, Pa.
Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN3
This one actually opened Temple (-3). The Owls are 3-3 against the spread this season, but 0-3 in games with single-digit numbers.
P.J. Walker impressed in his first college start, but also made some decisions that reminded everyone he's a true freshman. Walker went 12 for 22 for 200 yards passing, threw for a touchdown and two picks, and ran for 47 yards in Temple’s 38-20 loss at Cincinnati last Friday night. He led Temple to 20 first-half points, but got blanked in the second half.
Unfortunately for an offense that's shown new life under Walker, the Owls' kicking issues made an unfortunate return last week as Nick Visco banged one of his extra point attempts off the right upright. Temple had gone two games without a missed kick and three without a missed extra point. Rhule said Tuesday that Visco will continue his place kicking duties for the foreseeable future and that Tyler Mayes could supplant Jim Cooper Jr. this week on kickoffs.
On defense, the Owls are still letting up points and yards, but sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the nation in solo tackles with 65. No one else has more than 45.
Matakevich will have plenty of opportunities to tackle this week against an Army team that runs nearly every play.
The Black Knights' triple-option offense leads the nation in rushing yards with 352.3 yards per game. Of course, their passing offense is third to last in the FBS (66.7 ypg). They run the ball 59.7 times per game against a nation-low 11 passing attempts.
Quarterback Angel Santiago has taken over for four-year starter Trent Steelman. Terry Baggett (77 for 744) is Army's leading rusher and put up 304 yards on Eastern Michigan last week. Senior rusher and West Catholic grad Raymond Maples will miss his fifth game in a row with a groin injury.
Army has won three of its seven games, but those victories have come against FCS Morgan State and two FBS teams -- Louisiana Tech and Eastern Michigan -- with a combined record of 1-9. Its four losses -- to Ball State, Stanford, Wake Forest and Boston College -- have come by an average of 18.5 points.
Temple leads the all-time series 6-4, but has won the last five games -- three of those five have been by margins of 28 points or more.
In 2010, Owls running back Matt Brown set what was then a single-game program record with four touchdowns at Michie Stadium. And in the return trip to West Point in 2012, Montel Harris set new program and Big East records with 351 yards and seven touchdowns in a 63-32 Temple win.
Flying the flag
Backup quarterback Connor Reilly carried the American flag as the Owls took the field the last two seasons. His father, Lt. Col. Neil Reilly, served with the Army in Afghanistan and flew the Temple flag over his battalion while deployed, carrying the flag with him on each mission.
Somebody has to win
Temple hasn't won a home game since it beat South Florida in the Big East conference opener Oct. 6 of last year. The Owls have dropped their last six in a row at Lincoln Financial Field.
Army, meanwhile, has never won at the Linc. Including Army-Navy games, the Black Knights are 0-10 since the stadium opened in 2004.
Counting Temple, Army and the Eagles, the home team is winless at the Linc in its last 15 tries.
When’s the last time the home team won a football game at Lincoln Financial Field? [The700Level]