Temple (3-2, 1-0) at Memphis (3-1, 0-0)
When: Thursday, October 6th 2016
Where: Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Memphis Tigers will open up their conference schedule at home versus the Temple Owls on Thursday night and are looking to rebound from their first loss. Memphis outscored their first three opponents 155-27 to start the season 3-0, but were beaten-up by Ole Miss last week 48-28 after surrendering 624 yards and committing four turnovers. The Tigers allowed a total of 10 points in their previous two games before surrendering 48 to the Rebels, and now must contend with an Owls squad that has defeated them in two of the last three seasons. Quarterback Riley Ferguson is looking for a bounce back game after the junior threw three interceptions without a touchdown pass last week. In his previous two games, Ferguson threw eight touchdowns and zero picks. Wide receiver Anthony Miller had 157 total yards and a touchdown against Mississippi, while fellow junior Doroland Dorceus rushed for a touchdown for the fourth straight game. Kicker Jake Elliott needs one point to tie DeAngelo Williams (362) for second place in school history and eight points to match Stephen Gostkowski (369).
The Owls lost two of their first three games of the season, but the offense has picked it up over the last two by beating Charlotte (48-20) and SMU (45-20). Sophomore tailback Ryquell Armstead ran for two touchdowns for the second straight game and finished with 159 rushing yards against SMU while Senior Jahad Thomas also had a pair of rushing scores. It was the third straight game with two rushing TDs for Thomas, who is working his way back from a hand injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season. The defense has been very solid ranking 20th in the country in total yards allowed, but are particularly good against the pass – 156.6 yards/game (13th in FBS). Sophomore defensive back Delvon Randall had a career-high 10 tackles against SMU. The Owls’ special teams have been good this year also as kicker Austin Jones is 8-for-8 in field goals (long of 45) and 21-for-21 on extra points this season. Temple should be the favorite to get to the AAC Championship Game as they don’t have to face Houston or Navy in the regular season.
The Tigers can put up the points, but Temple’s defense should be up for the task. Ferguson really struggled last week and is still trying to fill the shoes that Paxton Lynch left. Memphis allows 146.2 yards a game on the ground and Temple has run the ball well the last two weeks. The Owls are playing well after a sluggish start and I expect them to keep this close and possibly win the game.
Pick: Temple +10