Temple football set for return to Big East action

Posted: October 07, 2012

Temple's second chance to make an impact in Big East Conference football begins with Saturday's homecoming game at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls (1-2) will host South Florida (2-3, 0-1 Big East) in their first game back in the conference since they were kicked out after the 2004 season.

Temple spent the previous five seasons as a football-only member of the Mid-American Conference.

Many Owls fans think this game is crucial. "Very important," said Art Brown, a 1988 Temple graduate from West Oak Lane. "It will tell if they can be competitive in the Big East this time around."

The Owls were not competitive at all in their first stint in the conference. A charter member of the Big East in 1991, Temple lost its first 27 conference games before upsetting Pittsburgh, 29-27, in 1995. The Owls went 14-80 in conference play, struggling at the gate before the Big East showed them the door.

This time around, a victory over the Bulls could give them a much-needed boost. Temple comes into this contest with a two-game losing streak.

A win Saturday and another one next week at Connecticut would give the Owls a 2-0 conference record heading into a home game against 22d-ranked Rutgers on Oct. 20.

South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels, who missed some practice this week with a sore ankle, is expected to play. The Bulls are looking to snap a three-game losing streak. They have won only one of their last 10 conference games.

"We are going to have to play a heck of a football game on Saturday," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "I really feel our kids have the opportunity to do that. But . . . they are very explosive."

Alumni on hand. New York Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, Oakland Raiders wideout Rod Streater, Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead, and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Steve Maneri will be among roughly 100 former Owls at the game.

South Florida at Temple

Saturday at noon, Lincoln Financial Field.

TV/Radio 6ABC; WPHT-AM (1210).

Records: South Florida, 2-3, 0-1 Big East; Temple, 1-2, 0-0.

Coaches: South Florida, Skip Holtz (third season, 15-15); Temple, Steve Addazio (second season, 10-6).

Series: First meeting between the teams.

Betting line: South Florida by 31/2.

Three things to watch

It will be interesting to see what Temple does on third downs. The Owls' offense is ranked 99th nationally in third-down conversions (32.50 percent). Temple is ranked 93d (44.44) in third-down defense.

How healthy is South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels? Holtz said his dual-threat signal caller would play this game. But Daniels missed time this week with a sore ankle.

Will Temple's passing game improve? The Owls have dropped 15 passes through three games. And last week, quarterback Chris Coyer misfired on two would-be touchdown passes.

Three things you might not know

Temple has won five of its last six homecoming games. The Owls shut out Buffalo, 34-0, last season.

Temple has 10 players on its roster from Florida. South Florida does not have anyone on its team from Pennsylvania, Delaware, or South Jersey.

Owls senior Brandon McManus ranks in the top five nationally in punting and field goals. He is ranked fourth in punting with an average of 47.13 yards. He is fifth in field goals with two per game. - Keith Pompey

Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq

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