Temple to play its biggest game of the season

OWLSFB01-e
Ryquell Armstead and the Temple offense hope to get untracked against East Carolina.

The answer from first-year Temple football coach Geoff Collins was predictable, but that doesn’t change the opinion of the questioner.

Temple is 2-3, 0-2 in the American Athletic Conference and visits East Carolina (1-4, 1-1) for an AAC game Saturday at noon.

One could say that this is the biggest game of the Collins era. Granted, that only consists of five previous games, but if Temple is serious about earning a third straight bowl bid, Saturday becomes a must-win game.

The Owls are already out of realistic contention to defend their AAC crown, and if they lose to ECU, they will have to go 4-2 in the final six just to become bowl eligible. Which means this game takes on added importance.

Collins wanted to hear none of that. He said the mind-set doesn’t change from week to week.

“Every single day is important, every single practice, every walk-through and game is important,” Collins said Tuesday during his press conference. “The second you start weighing in importance, that is when things fall apart.”

Nobody should have expected a different reply. The fact is that Temple, which was picked to finish third in the AAC East Division, is in a desperate situation.

This is not only an important game to help keep the bowl hopes alive but one of the best opportunities for the Owls to jump-start their stagnant offense.

Temple is averaging 16.2 points per game. That is not only last in the AAC but 119th nationally out of 129 schools.

On the other side, East Carolina is last in the AAC and 128th nationally in scoring defense. The Pirates are allowing a whopping 50.6 points per game. The only school behind East Carolina is Louisiana at 53.8 ppg.

Leave it to Collins to talk up the opposing defense on game week, even one that is allowing more than half a hundred points per game. “They have played some of the most explosive offenses in college football,” Collins said.

That is true.

ECU lost, 56-20, at West Virginia, a team that is second nationally in scoring offense (48.8 ppg.). The Pirates lost last week, 61-31, to visiting South Florida, which is ninth nationally (44.8 ppg.). They also suffered a 64-17 loss to Virginia Tech, which his 37th in scoring offense (35.4 ppg.).

But all three teams scored more against East Carolina than they are averaging. Still, Collins is preparing as if he will be meeting Alabama. “They find whatever the strength is of the other team and take it away,” he said about the Pirates defense.

We’re guessing from the figures that not enough has been taken away.

This is a real chance for the Owls to get untracked on offense, for a team that hasn’t scored a first-quarter touchdown to break that string.

Will it be easy? Nothing has come easy for the offense in the first five games.

This is a chance for Temple to get some confidence, add some points, and earn a much-needed win.