Saturday at 3:30 pm ET the Bearcats hit the road to play the Temple Owls. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. UC stands at 4-3, picking up their first conference win over ECU last weekend after making Gunner Kiel QB1. Temple is 5-2 overall and in charge of securing a spot from the East in the AAC conference championship game.
Behind head coach Matt Rhule, Temple is always a solid, mistake free program. They took Notre Dame down to the wire last year. There are a number of reasons all of the programs firing their coaches midseason and after the regular season will once again consider Rhule as an option.
Last year Temple defeated the Cats early on in September in UC’s first AAC bout by 8 points. UC turned the ball over 5 times and UC stubbed its toe too often to have a chance at a W. Last week Gunner threw 4 TDs and zero picks. His gunslinger mentality and turnovers were a huge knock on him last year. Last week offered hope that Kiel has turned the corner. He threw the ball all over the field and connected on a number of deep passes. He also showed chemistry with wide out #1 Kahlil Lewis. His talent was on full display. Temple is a much better team than ECU, but these are positive signs moving forward.
On the road at Temple in Philadelphia, land of cheesesteaks and Carson Wentz, UC is just 3-7 all time. Tuberville jokingly mentioned this week the Owls have their 10th year starting QB back in PJ Walker. Temple’s running back Jahad Thomas also tore through UC’s defense and presented quite a problem. Temple can run and throw the ball effectively. They run a similar, but much better offense, compared to Purdue.
Look for Kiel & Co. to continue their progress this week. Tion Green and Mike Boone should also be able to help out. Look for Boone to add a spark out of the backfield catching a pass or two like he did against ECU. The Bearcats lead the country in interceptions with 14. UC is also among the top-12 teams in the country in red zone defense. The problem comes with stopping the run, which UC has struggled with this season. Temple has a big, corn fed O-line and a stable of solid backs. For UC to win, the Bearcats have to avoid turnovers and stop the run.
The season is not lost. As Tubs said this week, everyone can beat everyone. Just look at what happened to Houston last week against SMU. Temple also smoked a red hot South Florida team.
The UC squad is re-energized after securing a homecoming win. I cannot emphasize enough how much the players love Gunner Kiel. Something tells me the seniors and rest of the players are going to try to send Gunner out by having the most prolific offensive season possible and amass as many W’s as they can before his eligibility is finally up.
Look for UC to win, 35-28, before heading into the BYU game at home.
By Andy Smith