Nov 6, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Navy Midshipmen running back Carlinos Acie (25) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety DJ Brown (2) in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Temple ends turbulent season with finale against Navy

It was a win that held such promise for Temple — 34-31 over Memphis in its American Athletic Conference opener — as their gifted new quarterback threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns.

With D’Wan Mathis — a 6-foot-6, dual-threat transfer from Georgia — running the show, it was exciting to consider the possibilities for the Owls.

But eight weeks later, Temple (3-8, 1-6) can’t wait for the season to end. The Owls have lost six straight games, none by fewer than 20 points, and their quarterback with the tantalizing talent has an uncertain future after announcing he was leaving the school and then reversing course a few days later.

Mathis was one of six scholarship players this year to declare he was departing a program that has fallen into disrepair under third-year coach Rod Carey. On their way out, some of the players have ripped Carey and his staff via social media.

It’s been a humbling downward spiral for Temple, which finishes its season Saturday against visiting Navy (2-8, 2-5).

“Guys, they leave for different reasons — reasons that, a lot of them, they haven’t really talked to me about,” Carey said. “That’s OK. That’s their business.”

It’s been a trying season as well for Navy, encapsulated by a 38-35 loss last Saturday to visiting East Carolina. The Midshipmen were on the verge of an upset of the bowl-bound Pirates, leading by eight points with six minutes left, but lost on a 54-yard field goal at the gun by Owen Daffer.

“This is a hard one,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “There’s been some tough losses this year. This one was obviously No. 1.”

With Army (7-3) still on the schedule, Navy still has much to play for. The positive for the Mids on Saturday was the play of their offense, which ranks last in the AAC but rolled up 345 yards rushing — led by Carlinos Acie’s 155 yards on six carries.

Temple will counter with quarterback Justin Lynch, who held the job early in the year, then lost it before regaining it when Mathis went down with an ankle injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) passes the ball against Tulane Green Wave during the first half at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Seeking 9th straight win, Houston visits upset-minded Temple

Since dropping its opener to Texas Tech, Houston has transformed into one of the best teams in the country.

The Cougars, ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25, will be looking for their ninth consecutive victory and a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2015 when they visit Temple on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Houston (8-1, 6-0 AAC) last won nine in a row in 2015. It won a wild 54-42 game last Saturday at South Florida.

“We’ve made progress this year,” Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’re excited about playing another meaningful game in November.”

While Houston looks to be a heavy favorite against the reeling Owls (3-6, 1-4), nothing is guaranteed. That much was proven in the 12-point victory over the two-win Bulls.

“It’s hard to keep winning,” Holgorsen said. “You’re gonna get everyone’s best shot. You better prepare for the game.”

If Houston hopes to continue its winning streak, it will need to execute better against Temple.

The Cougars allowed 399 total yards to USF and also surrendered a pair of 100-yard kickoff returns.

While the wins keep adding up, there is a massive room for improvement.

“Defensively, we didn’t play our best game,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t get to the quarterback. … What happened on the kickoff returns was unacceptable. It’s been a real problem and we’ve got to get it fixed.”

However, quarterback Clayton Tune continued to excel, completing 21 of 26 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’ve just kind of learned to tune out the noise and not really worry about what people are saying because it doesn’t really matter,” Tune said. “What matters is what the team thinks and what I think and the ability that I know that I have.”

Temple will hope to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when it faces Houston.

Following a thrilling 34-31 victory over Memphis on Oct. 2, the Owls have been outscored 180-27 in losses to No. 2 Cincinnati, South Florida, UCF and East Carolina.

Temple was crushed 45-3 last week against the Pirates as it missed two early field goals, fell behind 21-0 and never recovered.

Despite the struggles, head coach Rod Carey insists that the team remains focused.

“We’re in this together and they understand that,” Carey said. “We’ve had these discussions and they’ll continue to stay together. They’re a pretty bonded group.”

The youthful Owls were expected to endure some growing pains this season. Just not to this degree.

All they can do is regroup and attempt to pull off a stunning upset against the ever-improving Cougars.

“As you go through it, I don’t make excuses,” Carey said. “We have to coach them better. There’s a lot of youth. Even with the older guys back there’s a lot of youth and inexperience. We have to coach them better and get them moving in the right direction.”

It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Temple — D’Wan Mathis or Justin Lynch. Mathis is banged up and wasn’t on the practice field Monday.

Both quarterbacks struggled mightily against East Carolina.

“We’re going day by day,” Carey said. “We’ll plan for him (Mathis) being available. Justin has to prepare and get ready as well.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; East Carolina Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) runs the ball against East Carolina Pirates safety Jonathan Coleman II (37) during the first quarter at Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Temple, needing wins to rescue bowl hopes, faces East Carolina

Temple will hope to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when it battles East Carolina on Saturday in Greenville, S.C.

Since defeating Memphis 34-31 on Oct. 2, the Owls (3-5, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) were blitzed 52-3 by then-No. 5 Cincinnati, 34-14 by South Florida and then 49-7 by UCF last week.

“Penalties and turnovers and bad situational football certainly put the score where it was,” Temple coach Rod Carey said of the latest defeat.

Temple’s rushing defense has been an issue all season, especially in the three consecutive losses. The Owls surrendered 199 rushing yards to the Knights.

“We had one starting secondary guy out there,” Carey said. “We aren’t going to use that as an excuse, though.”

One of Temple’s goals this season was to qualify for a bowl game. For that to happen, the Owls would have to finish at least 6-6.

Reaching a bowl game would be a major long shot with a loss to the Pirates.

“We’re just going to take them one at a time and again, we will count them up and see where we are at,” Carey said.

East Carolina will be looking for its second straight win when it hosts Temple.

The Pirates (4-4, 2-2) defeated South Florida 29-14 on Oct. 28, outscoring the Bulls 23-0 in the second half.

The fact that the win came on a Thursday gave East Carolina some extra preparation time heading into the upcoming game.

“It was good to get a little bit of extra rest for the kids and get a little bit more work on Temple,” East Carolina coach Mike Houston said. “We feel good going into this week, got to have a great week of practice. A big ballgame for our program Saturday. Temple is a very dangerous opponent and we’re going to have to play very, very well.”

Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers continues to improve. He threw for 220 yards and a touchdown while also running for a season-best 78 yards on 11 carries against the Bulls.

“I thought he made really, really good decisions,” Houston said. “I don’t know if there’s a decision I really questioned that he made. I thought he was very decisive of where to go with the football. I thought he put us in good situations. I really thought, mentally, he played his best game of the year.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Temple Owls quarterback D'Wan Mathis (18) throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Temple meets UCF while trying to get back on track

Temple will look to avoid a third consecutive loss when it hosts UCF on Saturday.

Following a thrilling 34-31 victory over Memphis, the Owls (3-4, 1-2 American Athletic Conference) have since been throttled 52-3 at No. 2 Cincinnati and then fell 34-14 on Saturday at South Florida.

Temple struggled in all areas, especially against the run, as the Bulls compiled a program record 421 rushing yards.

Conversely, the Owls managed only 48 rushing yards and 183 passing yards.

The recipe turned into the 20-point loss.

“We only got to run 34 plays,” quarterback D’Wan Mathis said. “They kinda played keep away the whole night and just ran the ball, so it was tough to get into anything.”

The Owls held possession of the football for only 15 minutes. In the end, they’ll need to watch the film and regroup in trying to get back to .500.

“A lot of it was, we weren’t getting off on blocks,” Temple head coach Rod Carey said. “We were playing high at times and certainly threw the kitchen sink at them with everything in our repertoire as far as scheme, but we need to help them more as coaches and we need to play better as players.”

UCF will be searching for its second straight victory.

The Knights (4-3, 2-2) soundly defeated Memphis 24-7 last Friday thanks in large part to a strong defensive effort that included six sacks, three interceptions and three fourth down stops.

UCF didn’t allow a point in the second half.

“That was a real defense, with a capital R,” UCF head coach Gus Malzahn said. “That was an unbelievable job by the defense, harassing that quarterback. That was a thing of beauty we’re going to build on. Offense, good job with explosive plays. And that’s the way to end a game.”

After a couple of frustrating losses in the first half of the season, most notably a seven-point loss to Louisville and a four-point defeat to Navy, the Knights responded against Memphis in a big way.

“The second half of the season we’re 1-0,” Malzahn said. “Very few teams get better the second half of the season, but we showed we will.”

All four of UCF’s wins have come at home. The Knights are 0-3 on the road.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Temple Owls quarterback D'Wan Mathis (18) throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Temple tries to move over .500 in matchup with South Florida

Temple will look to move above .500 when it travels to South Florida on Saturday.

The Owls (3-3, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) will have had the last two weeks to recover from a crushing 52-3 loss to then-No. 5 Cincinnati when they battle the Bulls.

Temple quarterbacks were sacked six times by the ferocious Cincinnati defense. Temple didn’t execute well in any area.

“We’ve got to get back to work, we’ve got to keep improving,” Temple head coach Rod Carey said. “The bye week came at a good time for us, and we’ll go from there.”

To be fair, Cincinnati appears to be on the way to a berth in the College Football Playoff.

All season, the Owls have responded in a big way after a frustrating loss.

“Playing a team like that you can’t really make too many mistakes, you’ve got to be locked in and execute,” quarterback D’Wan Mathis said. “We probably didn’t do our best today but we will bounce back and do better.”

“We didn’t play good,” Carey added. “We’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better.”

South Florida will look to rebound after a difficult 32-31 home loss to Tulsa last Saturday.

Instead of celebrating their second victory, the Bulls fell to 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the AAC. They built an early 14-point lead and still were unable to sustain an 11-point advantage with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.

“Our guys did not play like a 1-4 football team that have been through what they’ve been through in five games (coming into this game),” South Florida head coach Jeff Scott said. “They played their hearts out. At the end of the day, we didn’t get it done at the very end when we had some opportunities.”

The Bulls’ defense must improve if they have a chance to defeat Temple. USF allowed 535 yards against Tulsa.

But the Bulls did force three turnovers and were energized by Brian Battie’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Through six games, the Bulls have struggled to put together a consistent 60-minute performance.

“It was a gut-wrenching loss,” Scott said. “The reason it hurts is not because we were up and let it go or any of that, it hurts because our guys played their tails off.”

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) runs to throw the ball to Cincinnati Bearcats fans after the NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Cincinnati Bearcats defeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish 24-13.

Cincinnati Bearcats At Notre Dame Fighting Irish 222

No. 5 Cincinnati turns to conference play vs. Temple

Cincinnati has ascended to No. 5 in the country after opening the season with four impressive victories.

The Bearcats (4-0, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) now look to keep the positive momentum going when they open their conference schedule Friday night against visiting Temple.

Cincinnati came through with an emotional 24-13 win on the road against No. 9 Notre Dame last Saturday.

Without diminishing the impact of that victory, the players and coaches are fully aware that the looming game against the Owls is just as vital.

“At the end of the day, we are going to go out and play our game,” quarterback Desmond Ridder said. “Hopefully we keep this going into Friday and the week after, and the week after that. We are going to prepare for each game how we do each week and keep going to the end of the season.”

Ridder has been steady through the first four games. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a third score. Six of those passes went to Alec Pierce, good for 144 yards.

After completing the 2020 regular season undefeated and being left out of the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati is motivated to crash the party that has been exclusive in its first seven years to the Power Five conferences and Notre Dame.

“We’re going to go out and play our game every Saturday or Friday and put our best foot forward and our best game on film,” Ridder said. “At the end of the year, if we do that and we go undefeated and we play 12 or 11 perfect games, whatever it is, as good as we can, and they still don’t put us in there, that’s not our call. We don’t have the call to make the playoff.”

They do have a say in how their regular season unfolds, with Saturday’s difficult league opener next up.

“Temple has been a thorn in our side since we’ve been here,” Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell said. “They’ve always played us really well.”

Temple beat Cincinnati in Fickell’s first two seasons with the Bearcats in 2017 and 2018, and in the most recent meeting in 2019 – 17th-ranked Cincy emerged by the margin of a 99-yard defensive conversion in the fourth quarter, 15-13.

The Owls (3-2, 1-0) will be looking for their third consecutive victory. They rallied last week from a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to defeat Memphis 34-31.

Quarterback D’Wan Mathis, a transfer from Georgia, played arguably his most complete game of the season. He threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards.

“Mathis is an emotional player,” Temple head coach Rod Carey said. “He used that emotion to his benefit.”

Mathis’ 35 completions, passing yards, rushing yards and touchdowns were all career highs as he found 11 different receivers.

“We’re finally doing what we do in practice,” Mathis said. “We began to execute in the second half. You guys finally got to see it.”

This road matchup looms as a monumental task for the Owls, who are trying to get back to their sixth bowl game in seven years after a 1-6 campaign last season.

“There’s a lot of things in there we have to get better at and strive to improve,” Carey said. “We have not arrived. It’s about the journey.”

–Field Level Media

Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan throws the ball against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

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After blowout win, Temple opens AAC slate vs. Memphis

After splitting its first four games, Temple will open American Athletic Conference play against Memphis on Saturday in Philadelphia.

The Owls (2-2, 0-0 AAC) soundly defeated FCS foe Wagner 41-7 last Saturday.

Quarterback D’Wan Mathis started for the first time since the opener when he sustained an injury against Rutgers. Mathis threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Seahawks while displaying good mobility.

It’s a good sign heading into a much more difficult matchup against the Tigers.

“Most importantly, we got the win,” Mathis said.

The Temple running attack was also solid, producing 115 yards on 29 carries. There has been healthy competition at running back through the first four games, but Kyle Dobbins thrived last week, amassing 61 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.

“I think (Dobbins) just really attacked the week,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “He played Tuesday and Wednesday like it was a game, which is good. We’re harping on these guys — you get in games what you put into practice. And he certainly had a good week doing it.”

Memphis (3-1, 0-0) will look to bounce back after a surprising 31-28 loss to UTSA.

The Tigers built a 21-0 advantage but were outscore 17-0 in the fourth quarter.

Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan completed 15 of 25 passes for 329 yards and one touchdown. The true freshman will now prepare for a game after a loss for the first time.

“They just told me to keep my head up and look toward the future,” Henigan said, referring to the veteran players on the team. “Keep on going and don’t worry too much about what happened.”

On the defensive side for the Tigers, JJ Russell produced a career-high 18 tackles, including 11 solo. However, the defense appeared to tire in the second half, most notably in the fourth quarter.

“Losses are terrible,” Russell said. “The good thing is we have a lot to take away from and learn.”

–Field Level Media

Aron Cruickshank of Rutgers is tackled by M.J. Griffin of Temple in the first half as Temple played Rutgers in the season opener at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, NJ on September 4, 2021.

Temple Played Rutgers In The Season Opener At Shi Stadium In Piscataway Nj On September 4 2021

Temple looks to bounce back at home vs. Wagner

After a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Temple came back to campus with high expectations this season.

But the Owls (1-2) have struggled, most recently falling 28-3 to Boston College last Saturday. Their offense was especially inefficient with just 84 net passing yards and a 32-yard fourth-quarter field goal by Rory Bell.

Temple, however, will look to get back to .500 with a nonconference home matchup against FCS foe Wagner on Saturday.

“Everybody played bad on offense,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “We get really good execution at high, high levels and then really bad execution. It’s not a talent issue. We’ve got to coach them better and we’ve got to get them going better because you can’t have that good and that low.”

The Owls’ defense held up for a while before appearing to wear down on some long drives. M.J. Griffin led the defense with 10 tackles.

“We had a lot of stops on defense,” Griffin said. “We held them to 21 for a while, actually. I think we did an all right job, but obviously we could have done better.”

Wagner (0-3) will be hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.

The Seahawks opened the season with a 69-7 loss to Buffalo followed by a 21-19 loss to Central Connecticut and 39-24 at Saint Francis last Saturday.

Wagner’s offense was effective at times thanks in large part to quarterback Jaalon Frazier, who accounted for three touchdowns — two passing and one rushing. Frazier threw for 216 yards.

Wagner coach Tom Masella was fully aware of the challenge of trying to resurrect the program.

Despite the slow start, he remains steadfast in his commitment.

“I think losing breeds losing,” Masella said. “The culture here was just not very good. Not conducive to winning. I made decisions that I was going to change the culture.”

Wagner is likely going to be an underdog every game. That won’t change against Temple.

“Go play and compete,” Masella said. “We talk about that a lot. We want to be a competitive team — every snap. Everybody says that. But I believe that.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles head coach Jeff Hafley along the sidelines during the first half against the Colgate Raiders at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College has more than enough to upend Temple

Quarterback Dennis Grosel threw for a touchdown and ran for another to lead Boston College to a comfortable 28-3 victory over host Temple on Saturday afternoon at Philadelphia.

The Eagles (3-0) beat the Owls (1-2) for the seventh consecutive time in the teams’ first meeting at Lincoln Financial Field since 2004 when both were members of the Big East Conference.

Grosel, who was playing in place of Boston College’s injured regular starter Phil Jurkovec (right wrist), made his ninth career start and helped the Eagles set the tone quickly in the first quarter as they scored touchdowns on their first two drives.

Travis Levy returned the game’s opening kickoff into Temple territory setting up Grosel’s 19-yard touchdown pass hit Jaden Williams for Boston College’s first points.

Boston College’s second scoring series was more methodical as it put together nearly a eight-minute drive, which took 10 plays and covered 78 yards and was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Pat Garwo III.

The Eagles’ offense sputtered at times but managed to rush for 187 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Levy’s 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter gave the Eagles a 21-0 halftime lead. Grosel’s 2-yard quarterback keeper with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.

The Owls finally scored with 13:09 remaining on Rory Bell’s 32-yard field goal. But it was a disappointing result to Temple’s better drives of the game.

Boston College totaled four sacks and consistently put pressure on Temple freshman quarterback Justin Lynch, who made his first career start last week and accounted for three touchdowns overall the Owls’ victory against Akron. Randle Jones had six catches for 32 yards to lead the Owls.

Lynch completed 17 of 24 passes for 161 yards.

With Jurkovec likely to miss the remainder of this season, Boston College may have to rely on Grosel, who threw for 520 yards and four touchdowns in his previous start last season at Virginia.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell (middle) and quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) and cornerback Ahmad Gardner (12) lead the team onto the field before the game against the UCF Knights at the Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Cincinnati focuses on AAC, not CFP, vs. Temple

Undefeated and No. 7 Cincinnati might be on the edge of the conversation for the College Football Playoff, but all coach Luke Fickell said he is focusing on is getting an American Athletic Conference title for his Bearcats.

“We don’t talk about outside,” Fickell said after his team’s 36-33 win last week over UCF. “We talk about opportunities to win a championship. We have not done that yet. If we can do that, it will give us an opportunity to continue to state our case for our league and whatever people believe in.”

Next up for the Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 AAC) is Saturday’s game at Temple, where a win would eliminate the possibility of any messy tie-breaking procedures to get the Bearcats into the AAC Championship Game on Dec. 19.

The Owls (1-6, 1-6 AAC) are on a five-game losing streak and are closing a frustrating season marred by COVID-19 cases and injuries.

Last week the Owls started a walk-on freshman at quarterback after Anthony Russo had a positive COVID-19 test and injuries sidelined sophomores Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell, who had stepped in when Russo was out four games because of a shoulder injury.

With freshman Matt Duncan suspended for violating team rules, Temple started Kamal Gray, who completed only 10 of 21 passes for 95 yards. Branden Mack moved over from his wide receiver position at the start of the second half, but went down with a shoulder injury that has sidelined him his week.

Russo has returned to practice, but coach Rod Carey said he isn’t sure he will be ready for game action.

“He hasn’t thrown a ball in two weeks, so we don’t know,” Carey said.

Gray will start again if Russo can’t play.

Fickell has no such issues. His quarterback, junior Desmond Ridder, is having a banner season (66.5 completion percentage, 227.6 average yards a game passing, and 65.8 rushing), and he rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two in the win over UCF. He has rushed for 11 touchdowns and passed for 16 for the season.

“The guy never ceases to amaze me,” Fickell said. “I love it when people start to doubt him or start to question what is he doing or how good is he or can he really throw the football. All those things to him just really make him better, make him lock in and focus.”

The Bearcats are looking to improve to 9-0 for the first time since the 2009 team finished the regular-season 12-0 under coach Brian Kelly before losing to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

After the trip to Temple, the Bearcats will have an open date before going to Tulsa on Dec. 12. Home field in the AAC title game could be on the line if the Golden Hurricane (5-1, 5-0 AAC) beat Houston and Navy in their next two games.

–Field Level Media