college football picks Connecticut at Temple 9-18-10

September 17, 2010

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DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 18th, 12:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNPlus/6ABC. Home Record: UConn 1-0, Temple 2-0. Away Record: UConn 0-1, Temple 0-0. Neutral Record: UConn 0-0, Temple 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 0-0, Temple 1-0. Series Record: Temple leads, 7-4.

GAME NOTES: It has been an exciting start to the season for Temple, and the Owls will look to continue their sensational play when they host the Connecticut Huskies this Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Huskies’ season began in hostile territory, as they opened the year in Ann Arbor against Michigan. Coach Randy Edsall’s squad was defeated rather easily (30-10), but the Huskies rebounded in a big way, by pounding Texas Southern in their next contest, 62-3.

The Owls soared into this season with high expectations, and so far coach Al Golden’s gang has delivered. However, it has not been easy in the first two games for Temple, as the team needed a late field goal to slip by Villanova in its opener. The next game was just as tough, as the Owls needed another field goal, this time in overtime, to slide past the reigning MAC champion Central Michigan Chippewas, 13-10.

In terms of the all-time between the two schools the Owls hold a 7-4 edge over UConn, but since the Huskies joined the FBS, they have won three of the last four matchups against Temple, including a 12-9 overtime decision back in 2008.

After suffering through a tough contest against Michigan, the offense for UConn exploded this past weekend, scoring 62 points. Sure, the Huskies picked on a lesser opponent in Texas Southern, but coach Edsall’s squad established the run early and continued to pound the ball throughout the contest.

Jordan Todman had his way with Texas Southern, rushing for 151 yards and three touchdowns on only 15 carries. However, he was not the only back to have a big game, as Robbie Frey rumbled for 101 yards and two scores in the win.

Due to the success of the ground game the Huskies did not have to pass much, but even though Zach Frazer threw only nine times, he still finished with 104 yards and two scores.

As mentioned earlier, the Huskies did face an easy opponent this past weekend, so it is not surprising that UConn surrendered just three points. After being pummeled by the Wolverines on the ground for well over 200 yards, the Huskies played much better in that area against Texas Southern, limiting the opposition to just 18 yards on 32 carries.

The Huskies were a suffocating force this past weekend, forcing four turnovers, while recording four sacks as well. Three of those turnovers were interceptions, as UConn also did a solid job against the pass, holding Texas Southern to just 151 yards through the air.

The Owls came into the season with a ton of hype and so did running back Bernard Pierce, who exploded on the scene last year as a freshman. A lot was expected of the back in his sophomore campaign, and while he has not hit his full stride just yet, the ground game as a whole has been consistent.

Against Central Michigan, Pierce scored the only touchdown for Temple, but finished with just 57 yards on 10 carries. However, Matt Brown added 48 yards on 16 totes, and the two players have become a formidable tandem in the backfield.

The success of the rushing attack has helped ease Chester Stewart into the starting quarterback role. Stewart has not been dominating, but he has managed the game well and in the win over CMU the signal caller was practically flawless. Stewart completed 16-of-22 passes for only 151 yards and did not throw a touchdown, but more importantly, he did not toss an interception.

The Owls are well balanced this season. They possess a tough ground game that controls the clock, and that gives their defense time to rest and stay fresh throughout the matchup. Together that makes very dangerous team, and against Central Michigan the defense looked just as good in the final quarter, as it did to start the contest.

Coach Golden’s squad was stout against the run, holding the Chippewas to just 43 yards on 33 carries. However, there were holes in the secondary, as CMU racked up 299 yards through the air.

However, the defense did record two interceptions in the win, one coming in overtime which eventually set up the win for Temple. Stephen Johnson had big showing in the victory, as the linebacker led the team with eight tackles, while also collecting an interception, to go along with a forced fumble.

This is a matchup between two teams that prefer to run the ball early and often. The difference is that Temple can contain the run with a strong defensive front, while the Huskies have showed they have trouble defending opponents on the ground. With that said, if Temple can continue to pound Pierce and Brown, look for the Owls to remain unbeaten.

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