Know the Foe: Temple
A look at Temple, which hosts USF on Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field
Record: 4-3 (2-1 American Athletic Conference)
Wins: Stony Brook 38-0, Charlotte 48-20, SMU 45-20, at UCF 26-25
Losses: Army 28-13, at Penn State 34-27, at Memphis 34-27
Coach: Matt Rhule (fourth season, 22-23)
The breakdown: If you lend credence to intangibles, give the momentum edge to the Owls, coming off a 26-25 win at UCF in which they scored the winning touchdown with a second remaining. While Temple's veteran offense has fluctuated from putrid (see Army game) to proficient (see final drive vs. UCF), its defense has remained solid. A year after senior LB Tyler Matakevich led the team in tackles every game, a different Owl has emerged as the top tackler in each contest this season. Temple comes in 17th nationally in total defense (316.6 ypg), 11th against the pass (166.7 ypg) and eighth in red-zone defense (68.2 percent). "I think on defense they're a lot faster than they were last year," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said. Keep an eye on redshirt senior DE Haason Reddick, whose 14 tackles for loss are five shy of the conference single-season mark. On the other side, senior RB Jahad Thomas (85 carries, 381 yards, seven TDs) is hitting his stride after missing two games with a hand injury. QB Phillip (formerly known as P.J.) Walker (10 TDs, 10 INTs) has thrown two or more picks three times this season, but was 4-of-4 for 70 yards in the game-winning drive at UCF. Jefferson High alumnus Ventell Bryant caught the first three of those passes for 62 total yards. Keep an eye on freshman PK Aaron Boumerhi, who has stepped in for redshirt junior Austin Jones (ACL) and hit 32- and 47-yard field goals at UCF.
Odds and ends: Thomas is the NCAA's active leader in consecutive games with at least two TDs (five). ... DL Praise Martin-Oguike ranks first among active NCAA players in career forced fumbles (10). ... Bryant and redshirt sophomore DB Jyquis Thomas (Plant City) are the only bay area players on Temple's roster. ... The Owls rank third nationally in blocked kicks (15) since the start of the 2013 season.
Willie Taggart's take: "Temple's a football team that knows how to win, and again, we as a football team are trying to get to a place (AAC title game) they've been to already. ... You watch their victory last week against UCF, it showed a football team that's not gonna flinch and does what it takes to win a ball game."