Bulls Look to Silence Owls

By on November 13, 2015

HOP USF fans _7422

History will be made at Raymond James Stadium this weekend when the South Florida Bulls face the Temple Owls. With the win, Temple will become the first ever American Athletic Conference Eastern Division Champion and take part in the inaugural AAC Championship game. If the Bulls win, they will become bowl eligible for the first time in five years and the first time since Willie Taggart took over as coach.  (Travis Failey / RSEN photo)

About Temple: The Owls come in with a record of 8-1, (5-0 conference) and ranked #21, the first time since 1979 that the Owls have been ranked. Matt Rhule, in his third season as head coach, has turned this perennial doormat into a future powerhouse. The Owls only loss this season was a four point loss to Notre Dame. Offensively, the Owls rank in the middle of the conference statistically. Led by Quarterback P.J. Walker and Halfback Jahad Thomas, the Owls average 361.3 ypg. Walker is 230 yards away from his third consecutive 2,000-yard passing season, while Thomas is the AACs leading rusher at 970 yards.

Defensive is the name of the game for the Owls. Led by WLB Tyler Matakevich, the NCAA active career tackles leader (442), the Owls are the number one ranked defense in the AAC allowing opponents 335 ypg and 18.4 ppg. The Owls are also third nationally with 15 interceptions.

About USF: The win over East Carolina brought the Bulls to within one game of bowl eligibility. With another 200 yard rushing performance last week against the Pirates, the Bulls are ranked 22nd nationally averaging 217 rush ypg. Offensively, Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers have combined to rush for 1, 492 yards with Mack second in the conference (behind Temple’s Jahad Thomas) at 104.4 rush ypg.

The Bulls Defense showed its stubbornness last week, holding the Pirates to 220 total yards and 8 first downs. Auggie Sanchez has become the leader of the Bulls defense ranking in the top five of the conference in tackles per game. The St. Petersburg, FL native leads the Bulls with 81 tackles.

Miscellaneous Notes: This is only the second meeting between the Bulls and Owls, with the Owls winning 37-28 in 2012. The Bulls are looking for their first win over a Top 25 team since 2011 and their first win at home over a Top 25 team since 2009. This is only the 11th trip to the state of Florida for Temple. The Owls are 0-10 in Florida having not won in the state since 1938.

Prediction: The Bulls have scored 20 points in four of their last five games while Temple is giving up 18.4 ppg. Offensively, Temple scores 34 ppg while USF is allowing 22.2 ppg. Temple is stingy on run defense allowing 110.9 rush ypg. There is room for the Bulls to pass on the Owls. In order for this to work, Flowers must be accurate and not try to force passes. Short passes will open up not only the run game but the deep pass. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they do not have the fire power to take down the Owls. Temple 34-South Florida 27.

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