College football capsule: Temple at Idaho

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College football capsule: Temple at Idaho

The Temple Owls are in search of their first win of the 2013 season and likely a sack of potatoes:

Temple (0-2, 0-1 American) at Idaho (0-4)
Kibbie Dome - Moscow, Idaho
Saturday, 5 p.m., Altitude TV (Direct TV 681)

Spread
Temple (-7.5). The Owls are 1-2 against the spread this season, 0-1 as a favorite.

Scouting Temple
Temple had a bye week to try to forget its miserable loss to FCS Fordham two Saturdays ago. The Owls went through three quarterbacks and two kickers and still managed to take the lead twice in the fourth quarter. But the defense gave up a 29-yard touchdown pass with four seconds remaining, coughing up the lead for good.

Over the bye week, head coach Matt Rhule has made several changes to his depth chart.

Starting at quarterback, Connor Reilly remains under center, but true freshman P.J. Walker, who burned his redshirt against Fordham, is now the No. 2. He moved ahead of senior Clinton Granger, who went 6-for-15 for 58 yards and two turnovers in the first half of that contest.

Changes along the line protecting Reilly include sophomore Zach Hooks, who's back at right tackle ahead of senior Sean Boyle, freshman Dion Dawkins, starting at right guard over senior Pete White, and redshirt freshman Brendan McGowan, at left guard ahead of senior Jeff Whittingham. Call it a youth movement. Cody Booth, by the way, is back at left tackle.

At tight end, Chris Coyer is now No. 1, as Romond Deloatch is potentially done for the season with an ankle injury.

Switching to the other side of the ball, sophomore middle linebacker Nate D. Smith appears to have made a permanent change to defensive end. Smith, a promising recruit, was stuck behind Jarred Alwan and Rob Dvoracek at MLB, before vacating the pass rushing role of Sean Daniels, who recently underwent season-ending hernia surgery.

The only other change includes sophomore Matt Ioannidis starting at defensive tackle over senior Kamal Johnson.

Scouting Idaho
It's a team without a conference -- or much talent.

Idaho has lost its four games this season by a combined 169-51. The Vandals have let up at least 40 points in each of their losses. Their margin of defeat has been by at least 32 points in three of those four losses. Their best performance came on Sept. 14 in a 45-35 loss to Northern Illinois, which is actually astounding.

But for all of Idaho's defensive issues, it's actually one spot ahead of Temple in yards given up this season. The Owls' 529 per game ranks 119th in the nation (see story), and the Vandals' 520 come in at 118.

As far as scoring goes, Idaho (again, astoundingly) hung 35 on Northern Illinois. Otherwise, the Vandals have put up totals of six, 10 and zero.

Moscow
This isn't Russia, is it, Danny?

The Owls left for Idaho late Friday morning and flew into Lewistown, about 30 miles from Moscow.

Temple hasn't played a game this far west since the 2011 New Mexico Bowl. Otherwise, the Owls once opened the season at Arizona State in 2005. I'll spare you the details.

This particular trip spans 2,595 miles. The next longest trip Temple will take this year is to SMU in Dallas, 1,463 miles. Trips like this would have potentially been the norm had Boise State and San Diego State opted to join the American.

Some other travels notes: This is the first meeting between the two programs and will be the first game Temple has ever played in the state of Idaho, making it the 36th state the Owls have played in in the last 115 seasons. The 14 remaining states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont.

Villanova stays put at No. 2 for the 3rd straight week

Villanova stays put at No. 2 for the 3rd straight week

Villanova stayed put in the national rankings this week.

The defending champion Wildcats remained the No. 2 overall team in the Associated Press top-25 poll behind 24-0 Gonzaga. The Bulldogs received 59 first-place votes while Villanova received five votes. Kansas, which came in at No. 3, received the other No. 1 vote.

The Wildcats stayed where they were in the rankings after holding their own with two comfortable road wins, in large part thanks to sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson was the big man on campus this week, beginning with a team-high 18 points in a 75-62 win at DePaul on Monday. He followed it up with his first career double-double as he put together a 22-point, 10-assist effort in a blowout win over Seton Hall in Newark on Saturday.

The win over the Pirates meant the Wildcats clinched a share of the Big East regular-season title for the fourth straight year. One win in their last three regular season games or one loss each by Butler and Creighton would hand Villanova sole possession of the Big East crown. 

Therefore, it's only fitting that the Wildcats' next two games are against none other than Butler and Creighton. Butler handed Villanova its first loss of the season back on Jan. 4 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, but the No. 22 Bulldogs have to travel to Philadelphia for the rematch on Wednesday. The No. 23 Blue Jays then head to the Pavillion for a Saturday afternoon duel. The Wildcats beat Creighton, 80-70, on New Year's Eve in Omaha.

At this point last season, Villanova had four losses (two in conference) and had just a one-game lead in the Big East. This year, they have much more room for comfort, albeit with a tough week with two ranked opponents ahead of them. 

Behind the top three, which remained static this week, the Pac 12 had three teams ranked 4-6 – Arizona, UCLA and Oregon – in the poll this week. The ACC had six teams in the top 25, including No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 North Carolina and No. 10 Duke. Baylor, which lost to Kansas on Saturday, fell from No. 4 to No. 9. 

Temple's youth shows again as lead slips away late in loss to UConn

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USA Today Images

Temple's youth shows again as lead slips away late in loss to UConn

BOX SCORE

Temple’s Sunday tilt with UConn at the Liacouras Center was the embodiment of a young team trying to find its way.

The Owls had a double-digit lead against one of the hottest teams in the nation, thanks in part to their young guys producing in pivotal moments in the game.

However, the inability to finish cost Temple again, as the Owls allowed Jalen Adams to convert a reverse layup with 2.9 seconds remaining in a 64-63 loss to the Huskies (see Instant Replay).

“It’s hard,” Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy said after the loss. “We have two of these now. We have Tulsa (70-68 on Jan. 14) and Connecticut at the buzzer at home. There’s not a lot to say.

“If we all make one better decision, including me, whether it’s a defensive set, a substitution or whatever. They hold onto the ball, they get a rebound, they make a shot, whatever it happens to be. We all make one better decision and we’re coming away with two great wins in Tulsa and UConn and not sitting here after two tough losses.”

After UConn hit a three to tie the game at 60, Temple freshman Quinton Rose made a huge three-pointer of his own to put the Owls back up 63-60 with 2:32 left in the game.

With Temple (14-14, 5-10 AAC) still clinging to a three-point lead, sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. came up with a huge offensive rebound, only to turn it over with 1:08 left on the clock. Adams came up with the steal and raced up the court, but was fouled by Rose while attempting a dunk.

Following Adams’ two makes at the free-throw line, Temple’s lead was trimmed to just 63-62. On the ensuing possession, senior Daniel Dingle was fouled by UConn guard Rodney Purvis.

Dingle missed the front end of a one-and-one set at the line, which set the stage for Adams’ acrobatic shot to give the Huskies (14-12, 9-5 AAC) their seventh win in the last eight games.

“We knew they were going to come off that high ball screen with Adams,” Dunphy said. “We needed to sit down and keep him in front of us. One guy could have helped a little bit more than he did. It would have been a drive and kick for an open jumper, but it would have been better than [a layup]. The other guy just needs to sit down on that play and keep Adams in front of him, but we knew that ball screen was coming.”

“I honestly thought the ball was going to Purvis because he made the last three shots, so I did my best to deny him,” Dingle said. “[Adams] did a fantastic move.”

Things had been going Temple’s way for a majority of the night. The Owls led for the vast majority of game time thanks in part to 5 of 9 shooting from three in the first half, which gave them a 35-29 halftime lead. The lead increased to 56-46 with 8:29 left in the contest.

Dingle’s all-around play and leadership helped push Temple ahead. Freshmen Damien Moore and Alani Moore II combined for 22 points on 9 of 10 shooting.

However, the Owls went cold late. Temple made only 2 of 12 three-point shots in the second half.

UConn's day went in the opposite direction as the Huskies shot a blistering 54.2 percent in the second half and 62.5 percent from downtown. Purvis poured in 13 of his game-high 18 after intermission.

“The younger guys are doing very well,” said Dingle, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. “We’re going to learn how to win. They’re doing a great job. It just so happens that we let one get away again.”

The Owls have made close defeats a habit. Sunday marked their fifth loss this season by five points or less.

These type of losses are the reason why Temple is in the eighth spot in the American Athletic Conference. With three regular-season games left and the AAC conference tournament quickly approaching, this Temple team, which holds victories over No. 9 West Virginia and No. 17 Florida State, will need to start showing the same promise it had earlier in the season to keep alive any dreams of dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

“I definitely talk to the guys about having that sense of urgency,” Dingle said. “For me, time is running out, so that’s the sense of urgency I’ve got. We’ve got to get there as a whole. I say that in the huddle, ‘We’ve got to get there.’ I remember being a freshman to now I’m in my fifth year. Time is not waiting, so every game we’ve got to go out there and play like it’s our last.

“The sense of urgency I think is all right but it has to increase. In order for us to get an opportunity to play in the NCAA [Tournament] – that’s something I want to do and I know the team wants bad for us as a whole and definitely for the seniors. Coach talks about the sense of urgency has to pick up.”