Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

Temple at USF

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With football every night of the week in early November, the Thursday night game will have a harder time standing out and a matchup in the AAC this Thursday isn’t an alluring national draw as Temple visits South Florida. Both teams are tied at 2-2 in conference play and the victor will get a big boost towards the postseason.

Temple Owls at USF Bulls

Venue: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
Time/TV: Thursday, November 7, 8:00 PM ET ESPN
Line: Temple -1, Over/Under 50
Last Meeting: 2018 at Temple (-14) 27, South Florida 17

Temple had a messy off-season after Geoff Collins left the program after two seasons to take over at Georgia Tech. The Owls hired Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, but a few weeks later, he was brought back to Miami after Mark Richt retired. Rod Carey was hired after a successful run at Northern Illinois and is now the fifth coach for the program since 2006, not counting Diaz or interim coach Ed Foley.

Temple hasn’t been thought of as one of the top Group of 5 programs often but since 2015, the Owls are 40-22 S/U and 40-22 ATS for records that few programs can match. Temple is 5-3 this season with erratic results beating Maryland and Georgia Tech as well as Memphis, but taking a loss to Buffalo and now outscored 108-42 in the past two AAC games.

Carey’s track record promoted running the ball and stopping the run with the Huskies ranking third nationally in per carry run defense last season. So far this season, Temple has held foes to 189 rushing yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry for average numbers. The Owls have better numbers against the pass, 34th nationally in allowing 6.8 yards per attempt while 6th nationally in opposing quarterback completion percentage.

Temple’s offense has struggled, sitting at the bottom of the AAC posting just 4.6 yards per play. The Owls are one of the nation’s worst rushing teams posting just 3.3 yards per attempt and 132 yards per game on the ground. Junior quarterback Anthony Russo is asked to do a lot and he has thrown for more than 1,800 yards this season with 16 touchdowns but also eight interceptions. He hasn’t had a 300 yard passing game vs. FBS competition this season and he had a marginal game vs. USF last season passing for 264 yards, but with no touchdowns and just 59 percent completions.

Temple draws difficult games with Tulane and Cincinnati the next two weeks but will have a favorable finale at home vs. Connecticut should they still be searching for win #6 to claim a fourth bowl bid in five seasons, though the program hasn’t won a bowl game since 2011 under Steve Addazio coming out the MAC.

USF went 11-2 under Willie Taggart (as well as TJ Weist for the bowl game) in the 2016 season. Taggart left for Oregon and then Florida State and he is now out of a job, though with full pockets. Charlie Strong was a rising star going 37-15 in four seasons at Louisville before a mediocre three-year run at Texas. He seemed to land on his feet in Tampa with a 10-2 first season with the Bulls in 2017, nearly ousting undefeated UCF for the division title and also beating a Big Ten team in non-conference play and a Big XII team in bowl action.

It appeared to be more of the same last season for Strong with early season wins over ACC and Big Ten teams and a 7-0 start led by Alabama and Arizona State transfer Blake Barnett at quarterback. USF would close the season losing six straight including the Gasparilla Bowl at home in Tampa. In a hyped opening game with Wisconsin in 2019, the Bulls lost 49-0, but since a 1-3 start, USF has turned around to go 3-1 the past four games with a notable home win over BYU.

This is a critical game for USF as they will face three of the top American teams in the next three games and any hopes of returning to a bowl game will likely require a win this week. Barnett was benched early in the year and Jordan McCloud has had mixed results as a freshman quarterback. He is much smaller in stature and more of a rushing threat and the offense now leans on the rushing attack led by senior Jordan Cronkrite, who has amassed nearly 600 yards on 5.4 yards per carry including 100+ yards in each of the past three wins.

USF ranks 36th nationally in yards per rush at 4.9, a spot ahead of the Badgers team they were blown out by in the opener. Few teams gain fewer passing yards than the Bulls as this is a matchup of contrasting offenses. USF’s defense has slightly better pass defense numbers than run defense numbers as well to mirror Temple.

Series History:

The host has won all four meetings between these teams going back to 2012 with USF’s underdog cover last season the only instance of the S/U winner not matching the ATS winner.

Last season:

Temple had clinched bowl eligibility the previous week with a 59-49 win at Houston and it had been a run of marquee games vs. top AAC contenders for the Owls including an overtime win over Cincinnati and a primetime loss to undefeated UCF in a very competitive game. It proved to be a flat spot for Temple as USF led 17-0 at halftime.

The tables turned after the break as up by 17, USF was stopped on 4th-and-1 just outside of field goal range. Temple answered with a touchdown and the second half went disastrously for the Bulls with five turnovers including allowing a fumble return touchdown as well as a punt return touchdown as Temple stormed back to take the lead in the fourth quarter and ultimately won 27-17. Temple had a 337-266 yardage edge and a 5-2 turnover edge. USF had a 184-73 edge in rushing yards and held on to cover at +14.

Historical Trends for Temple:

There aren’t many negative trends for Temple in recent years and the Owls are 11-4 ATS since 2014 as a road favorite while 27-13 ATS in all road games since 2013. Temple won but fell short of the spread playing on Thursday night at East Carolina in early October and is 0-3 ATS on the road this season. Rod Carey is 57-33 S/U in his career mostly as Northern Illinois before joining Temple this season, going 46-42-2 ATS including 13-9 ATS as a road favorite.

Historical Trends for USF:

Under Charlie Strong since 2017, USF is 11-6 S/U but 6-11 ATS at home including 2-4 ATS as a home underdog. USF is on a 25-36-3 ATS run in home games since 2010. Strong is 74-49 S/U in his career at Louisville, Texas and now USF while three games below .500 ATS though he is 26-20-1 ATS as an underdog in his career.

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