Temple Owls (7-3, 5-1, 1st Place AAC East) hope to ride the wave to the AAC Championship Game on 12/3, as they head to New Orleans to play the Tulane Green Wave (3-7, 0-6, Last Place AAC West). Temple needs to win both of their remaining games or hope for an upset by SMU or UCF over USF the next two weeks, to repeat as AAC East Champions.
Temple is coming into the game off a bye week, which followed a 21-0 shut out of UConn back on 11/4. Tulane’s last game was a 30-18 loss at Houston.
All time the series is 2-1. Temple, with the only loss being a 20-14 final, in the 1935 Sugar Bowl. I remember it well 😉 Last season Temple won the game handily with stellar defense, 49-10 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Though they come into the game as road 15 pt favorites and coming off a bye week, Temple is at least talking a good game, with the mantra of just going 1-0 each week.
“The 1-0 thing we started saying, really, earlier this year,” coach Matt Rhule said Tuesday. “We just tried to frame it a different way of every week, just trying to win that week. We started on Sunday and everything leads up to being ready to play at game time.
“You lose the game and you’re out of the playoff hunt. This is a playoff game for us.”
Seniors, LB Avery Williams, and RB Jahad Thomas also touted the team line.
“We’re focusing on going 1-0 every week,” Williams said. “This is Tulane week. That’s all we’re focused on.”
“We’re just focused on going 1-0 this week,” Thomas said. “We know that in order to get [to the conference championship], we’ve got to win this week. So that’s what we’re focused on.”
Tulane’s biggest offensive threat is the running game. They are 18th nationally in rushing, averaging 236.4 yards per game, and have rushed for 100 or more yards in every game this season. Their leading rusher is JR. RB Dontrell Hilliard (737 yards rushing, 5.7 avg., 9 TDs), but they also rely on two other backs, redshirt SR’s Josh Rounds (643, 6.5 avg., 5 TDs) and Lazedrick Thompson (376 yards rushing, 6.3 avg., 4 TDs) to help carry the load. Redshirt SO QB Glen Cuiellette (87-206 passing, 1,126 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INT) controls this offense, mixing in the pass to help the run. His main target is redshirt SO WR Terren Encalade (33 receptions, 438 yards, 6 TDs). Cuiellette did throw for 241 yards, two tds and no ints in last weeks loss. Overall the Green Wave offense averages 25.1 PPG.
The Green Wave’s forte is creating turnovers. They are ranked 14th nationally and first in the AAC in turnover margin (0.80). Their 13 fumble recoveries is the best in the AAC. Besides that though they are still allowing 28.8 PPG – as opposed to Temples 20.1. Their top tackler is SR. LB Nico Marley (76 tackles, 12 TFL, 3 sacks). He may be just as well known as the grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley and the son of former Miami LB Rohan Marley. Their other defensive leader is also their top sack man SR DT Tanzel Smart (56 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks). Another man to watch on Tulane’s D is redshirt JR. DE Ade Aruna (37 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks).
I normally concentrate on the opponents in these previews, but two injuries announced by Ruhle on Tuesday could have an impact on this game. He noted that redshirt SR DE Haason Reddick and SO RB Ryquell Armstead might not play due to injury. It will most likely be a game day decision on each one. On the positive front redshirt JR. CB Artrel Foster who missed the last game, should be back on the field.
After seeing how they handeled UConn two weeks ago in what I had seen as a trap game, Tulane having little to play for at this point of the season, and that Temple has enjoyed a week off to heal some wounds, I see The Owls having little problem with the Green Wave this week. Temple 28-10.
TV: ASN/ESPN3/PHL17 PBP Jeff McCarragher. Analyst Michael Young
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic PBP Harry Donahue, Analyst Paul Palmer, Sidelines Harry Mayes