"As you get into this part of the season, it's physically demanding and it's mentally demanding," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "And it concerns me."
Addazio is worried because his youthful and inexperienced team has never gone through what it is about to experience.
"You know they don't know the grind," he said. "They think they are exhausted. They are not used to the grind. And we are not used to the quality of the opponent in the grind."
Addazio will not, at least publicly, call the game against the Panthers (3-4, 0-3) a must-win.
"If you had a more veteran team, I think you put that right at them like that," he said. "I think when you have a young team, you look at it like let's go play the best game that we can play. Let's have a great week of preparation, and don't over- and undervalue any one single contest. Let's just go get it."
Even though they are perhaps the Big East's most inconsistent team, the Panthers are 61/2-point favorites.
Pitt boasts the conference's best wideout tandem in senior Mike Shanahan (80.6 receiving yards per game) and junior Devin Street (79.3).
The Panthers also have a talented running-back tandem in senior Ray Graham (513 rushing yards, five touchdowns) and freshman Rushel Shell (362 yards, three TDs).
But Pitt's three victories have come against squads with a combined 6-16 record: Virginia Tech (4-4), Gardner-Webb (1-6) and Buffalo (1-6).
After facing the Panthers, the Owls travel to Louisville (7-0, 2-0) on Nov. 3 before hosting Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0) on Nov. 10.
Temple finishes up against Army (1-6) and Syracuse (3-4, 2-1).
Even though Addazio said he won't put too much emphasis on the Pitt game, his players realize how important it is.
"You've got to kind of look at it like we've got to go out there and this is our push to get bowl-eligible," Temple safety Justin Gildea said. "We've got to go out there and win this one."
Contact Keith Pompey at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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