In front of 35K+ Cherry and White clad fans – easily one of the best attended games that did not feature a big name team – on a sun splashed day @ Lincoln Financial Field, the Temple Owls (5-0,2-0) defeated the Tulane Green Wave (2-3,1-1) in an American Athletic Conference tilt w/ tenacious Defense coupled w/ an efficient Offense. For more background on this game see TULANE @ OWLS .
While Owls QB P. J. Walker wound up 11-15 , 183 yds, no ints, and 2 TDs – one each to Robby Anderson and Jahad Thomas – who also had a rushing TD – and FR Ryquell Armstead had his 1st two career rushing TDs after a 1st series fumble, it was really the defense that allowed Temple to score 42 unanswered points after being down 10-7. Tyler Matakevich had seven tackles leaving him one shy of 400 for the NCAA active tackle leader’s career. The team had 4 sacks and So. DB Sean Chandler added an int return to the score sheet.
After a typical slow start, trailing 10-7 early in the 2nd qtr, Temple started to recover going into half time up 21 – 10. The Owls once again dominated the scoring in the 3rd Qtr 21-0, and have outscored their opponents 75-6 in that period for the season. They also had a few miscues on special teams along the way but were able to overcome them w/ the stifling defense that held Tulane to just 8 yds rushing on 27 carries, and Wave QB Tanner Lee threw for only 95 yds, 16-29, 1 TD and 2 ints. “This is a day the defense really clicked and started to jell and got back to what we thought was our standard,” said defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, who had 11/2 sacks.
A pair of Red shirt Frosh capped the scoring for Temple w/ a 10 yd TD from QB Frank Nutile to RB David Hood, a 1st for each, @ 11:01 of the final period, as the Owls were already resting their starters.
Their 1st 5-0 start since 1974 lead the Owls to # 26 in the polls – the highest since finishing 17th in 1979 when they defeated the Cal Golden Bears 28 – 17 in the 2nd ever Garden State Bowl. After the game Coach Matt Rhule joked about breaking the top 25 – “My son says it to me sometimes, and I tell him to be quiet,” evoking laughter from reporters. In a more serious vein – “I want to finish the year in the top 25, make no mistake about it,” Rhule said. “But right now I really don’t care.”
Temple’s nine interceptions lead the AAC, and 12th in the nation this season. The defense is allowing just 14.4 points per game, good for 13th in the NCAA.
Next week Temple goes under the lights @ the Linc for another AAC matchup hosting the Central Florida Knights (0-6, 2-2) who fell to the Connecticut Huskies this week 40 – 13 for a 7:30 PM kickoff. UCF leads the series 2-0. Last season in Orlando, UCF’s 17-0 first-quarter lead was too much for the Owls as the Knights cruised to a 34-14 victory.