Tonight in the City 6: Temple hosts Charlotte

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Tonight in the City 6: Temple hosts Charlotte

There’s just about a month left until it’s tournament time, and no City 6 school has truly emerged as the top team. Yet five of the six still have realistic chances to go dancing (see story).

Wednesday, two of those teams will be in action:

Charlotte (17-4, 5-2 A-10) at Temple (14-7, 3-4)
7 p.m., Liacouras Center

Previous games
The Owls held a nine-point lead with under six minutes to go before they allowed St. Joe’s to go on an 18-5 run. Temple couldn’t stop the bleeding in time and fell to the Hawks at Hagan Arena, 70-69. Khalif Wyatt dropped a career-high 34 points and shot 7 for 14 from long range.

Charlotte kept its flawless home record intact when it escaped its matchup with UMass with a 66-65 victory. The 49ers shot just 39.7 percent from the field (to the Minutemen’s 49.0 percent), but they made it up at the free throw line, where they made 16 of 26 attempts compared to UMass’ dismal 6 of 16.

Top players
Wyatt isn’t just Temple’s top player, he’s been on fire lately, averaging 25.1 points over his last seven contests and earning an A-10 co-Player of the Week award. On the season, the 6-foot-4 senior puts up 18.6 points and 4.0 assists on a nightly basis.

Big man Anthony Lee leads the team in rebounding (7.8 per game) and field goal percentage (55.3 percent).

DeMario Mayfield leads Charlotte in scoring at 11.7 points per game, but he’s been suspended indefinitely since Jan. 30. Chris Braswell, a 6-foot-9 forward, is the only other man putting up double-digits, at 11.4 per game. He also averages 5.7 rebounds.

All-time series
Temple holds a 7-5 advantage in the series and has won the last two contests. The Owls are also a perfect 5-0 against the 49ers at the Liacouras Center.

St. Joe’s (13-7, 4-3 A-10) at Dayton (12-9, 2-5)
7 p.m., University of Dayton Arena

Previous games
As mentioned above, the Hawks beat Temple, 70-69, on Saturday at Hagan Arena. C.J. Aiken had the go-ahead layup with 25 seconds to go. Ronald Roberts Jr. recorded a double-double with teams high in points (18) and rebounds (12). Aiken and Carl Jones had 16 points apiece.

Dayton dropped its fifth straight decision on the road, getting clobbered by Saint Louis, 81-52. The Flyers turned the ball over 20 times and hit just three treys to the Billikens’ nine. The loss marked Dayton’s largest in A-10 play in 16 years.

Top players
Reigning Big 5 Player of the Week Carl Jones leads the way with 15.1 points per game. He averaged 17.7 points in wins and just 11.0 in losses.

Ronald Roberts Jr. has notched two consecutive double-doubles to bring his total to 10 for the season. In those games, the Hawks are 7-3.

For Dayton, Kevin Dillard leads the Flyers in just about everything: points (14.5), assists (4.7), steals (1.2), free throw percentage (86.7 percent) and minutes (32.1). He’s one of three players to average double-digits, the others being Vee Sanford (12.8) and Josh Benson (10.2).

All-time series
The Flyers are 18-13 against St. Joe’s and have taken seven straight tilts at UD Arena, with the Hawks’ last win coming in the 2000-01 season.

No. 5 Penn State 'honored' to battle No. 9 USC in Rose Bowl

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No. 5 Penn State 'honored' to battle No. 9 USC in Rose Bowl

PASADENA, Calif. -- Southern California and Penn State followed two difficult paths to reach a remarkable reunion eight years later in the Rose Bowl.

The Trojans will face the Big Ten champions on Jan. 2 in the 103rd edition of the Granddaddy of Them All. The rematch of the 2009 game showcases two venerable football programs that have emerged from bad times since their last trip to this traditional postseason destination for their conferences.

"I can't think of a better reward for our football team after this season," USC coach Clay Helton said. "These are the things you dream about as a little kid."

USC (9-3) will meet Penn State (11-2) in a rematch of the Trojans' 38-24 victory eight years ago -- the last trip to the Rose Bowl for either team. Since then, both programs were rocked to their foundations by scandals and NCAA sanctions.

But both capped years of progress with breakthroughs this fall, recovering from similarly slow starts to become two of the nation's top teams.

Coach James Franklin's Nittany Lions have won nine straight games, culminating in a 38-31 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday night in the Big Ten championship game. Penn State finished fifth in the final College Football Playoff rankings, just ahead of Michigan.

"How humbled and honored we are to have this opportunity," Franklin said. "I think this is a game and a bowl that players and coaches grow up dreaming about having an opportunity to play in and be a part of one day."

Helton's Trojans have won eight games in a row, capped by back-to-back victories over top rivals UCLA and Notre Dame. The Trojans barely missed out on the Pac-12 title game between Washington and Colorado -- who were both beaten convincingly by USC -- but overtook the Buffaloes in the final playoff rankings to snag their record 34th Rose Bowl berth.

Penn State will make its fourth appearance in the Rose Bowl, including three against USC. The Rose Bowl berth is another milestone in the program's revival after the scandal surrounding former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was indicted on 40 counts of sex crimes in 2011.

USC has played in far more Rose Bowls than any other team. The Trojans' downtown campus is 15 miles from the stadium, which became the program's second home during the dominant years of coach Pete Carroll.

Here are some more things to know about the big game:

Trojans return
USC made the Rose Bowl five times in a six-season stretch under Carroll, including four straight trips from 2006-09, culminating in that victory over Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions. The Trojans have been through tumult since then, with a two-year bowl ban and other heavy NCAA sanctions leveled on the program in 2010. Coaches Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian were hired and fired amid regular turmoil in the athletic department over the past half-decade, but the capable Helton stepped in twice to run the team before finally getting the full-time job late last season.

Slow starts
Helton's first full season in charge got off to a 1-3 start this September with three losses to ranked teams away from home, but the Trojans haven't lost since. Penn State was 2-2 after a 49-10 loss to Michigan on Sept. 24, but the Nittany Lions are perfect ever since.

Young QBs
The game matches two gifted young quarterbacks who became stars this season. Sam Darnold took over the Trojans nine games ago, and the Pac-12's offensive freshman of the year has steered their winning streak with 2,633 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. Penn State sophomore Trace McSorley has been outstanding during the Nittany Lions' unbeaten run, culminating against Wisconsin with a brilliant 384-yard, four-touchdown performance, his most prolific of the season.

Matchups
USC's solid defense must face a Penn State offense that has scored at least 38 points in six consecutive games. Penn State's defense will have its own hands full against USC's offense, which is dotted with NFL-caliber talent at nearly every position -- including top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, 1,000-yard tailback Ronald Jones II and a powerful offensive line.

Familiar problem
USC is 24-9 in the Rose Bowl game since making its first appearance in 1923, earning a 14-3 win over Penn State in the ninth Rose Bowl game ever played. According to the Rose Bowl, that 1923 game started 50 minutes late because of a classic LA problem: Penn State's team got stuck in traffic.

No, 24 Temple ready to make more history in Military Bowl vs. Wake Forest

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No, 24 Temple ready to make more history in Military Bowl vs. Wake Forest

Less than 24 hours after senior offensive lineman Dion Dawkins put Temple’s American Athletic Conference trophy in its case at Edberg-Olson Hall, it had to be taken out again.

There were too many fingerprints on the championship hardware from all the people holding it after Temple’s 34-10  win against Navy on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. Now clean, the trophy is back in its secure spot as a reminder of one of the program's biggest accomplishments.

“When we go back to 10th and Diamond and see that trophy case, ‘We can say, Dang. Like that’s us,’” Dawkins said. “We did this. We built this. We started this legacy at Temple with Coach Rhule.”

Dawkins and the Owls will have another opportunity to build on their "legacy" when they travel back to Annapolis for the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 against Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons, who play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, finished the year 6-6 after losing their last three games.

“I think for us there’s two reasons,” Rhule said of the Owls’ decision to return to Annapolis for a bowl game. “We wanted to play a Power 5 team. We wanted to play an ACC or SEC team. And I think once we won there, and we saw what our crowd was there. I think this will just be a tremendous opportunity for all of Temple people to come down and see us play an ACC team.”

Last year’s Temple seniors went down as one of the best senior classes in program history. They went to the program's first bowl game in four years, they were ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in 36 years, and they won 10 games for just the second time in program history.

This season, Temple has matched those marks with one game still left to go. When the Owls play in the Military Bowl, they’ll make program history by appearing in bowl games in consecutive years. On Sunday, the Owls appeared in the College Football Playoff (No. 24), Associated Press (No. 23) and USA Today Coaches poll (No. 24) rankings for the first time this season. A Temple team ranked in consecutive seasons is another first.

Even after clinching the AAC title on Saturday, there’s still more this team can do. The Owls haven’t won a bowl game since 2011. Temple ended 2015 with a loss to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl, which dropped the Owls from the final rankings. Rhule hopes the Owls can end this season in the Top 25. They’ve done it only once before — in 1979, when Wayne Hardin’s group finished No. 17 after a 10-2 year.

“I’m a big believer in legacy," Rhule said. "And I try to talk to our players about, ‘When you come back, the memories you’ll have, but also the things that will remind you of the things that you did, your accomplishments. And when they look up this team, we’d like to have a number next to it. It tells you that we’re one of the top teams in the country.”

The Owls also have a shot at the 11th win that eluded the 2015 team. Including this year’s team, Temple has had three 10-win seasons in its history. No Temple team has ever won more.

“Right now, we’re going to celebrate,” redshirt-senior defensive lineman Haason Reddick said after Saturday’s game. “This was a big accomplishment. Once we figure out which bowl game we’re going to and it’s time to start preparing for the bowl game, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go in with a championship-caliber mind again, that way we can get an 11th win and hopefully end this thing 11-3.”