EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - It was thought that the key for Temple against UConn would be how the Owls fared against the stingy run defense of the Huskies.
Yet Temple came out with an aerial show that stunned host UConn.
With Phillip Walker throwing three touchdown passes in Temple's first three possessions, Temple defeated Connecticut, 21-0, in an American Athletic Conference matchup on Friday night at Rentschler Field.
It was the fourth win in a row for Temple, now 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the AAC. Temple has a bye next week, but if the Owls win their final two games, at Tulane and home against East Carolina, they will repeat as East Division champion and make a return trip to the AAC title game.
The Owls recorded their second shutout of the season, which includes a 38-0 win over Stony Brook.
Walker, who earned his 25th career win at Temple, completed 6 of 6 passes for 147 yards and three TDs in the first quarter as the Owls took a 21-0 lead.
"We got a rhythm going and overall I thought I threw pretty well in the first half," Walker said. "Just in the second half, I thought at times we looked really sharp and at times we looked sloppy."
UConn (3-7, 1-6) dropped its fourth consecutive game. The Huskies entered the game ranked 26th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 125.3 yards per game, but they were shredded by the pass in the opening quarter.
Temple scored on its first possession, with Walker hitting a wide-open running back Jahad Thomas on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
On the drive, Walker hit Ventell Bryant for 20 yards, Thomas for 32 and then Thomas for the touchdown. It was Thomas' 13th TD this season.
Walker, who entered the game with 1,990 passing yards, surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the fourth time, becoming the first Temple quarterback to achieve that feat.
Walker and Thomas, high school teammates at Elizabeth, N.J., connected again on the next series. Thomas was again wide open, and Walker found him for a 10-yard score.
It was the seventh time this season Thomas has scored two touchdowns in a game. He felt the team fed off the quick start.
"It created a lot of energy for our offense, defense and special teams when you start hot," Thomas said.
As in the first drive, the Owls got a big reception from Bryant, who beat cornerback Jamar Summers for a 44-yard reception.
On the next series, Temple's Michael Dogbe blocked a 35-yard field-goal attempt by Bobby Puyol.
The Owls made it 21-0 when Walker found tight end Romond Deloatch on an 18-yard scoring pass with 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
With the way Temple's defense was playing, that was more than enough. Linebackers Jarred Alwan and Stephaun Marshall, cornerback Nate Hairston and defensive ends Praise Martin Oguike and Haason Reddick led the defensive effort.
"This was one of the best defensive performances we have seen from these guys," said Temple coach Matt Rhule. "We wish we would have scored more, but this was our 10th week and we will take the bye week. I am proud of the team the way they fought and clawed."
UConn freshman Donovan Williams, seeing his first action at quarterback, threw for 69 yards and rushed for 66 more.
In the second half, Temple was content to rely mainly on the ground game, but the Owls were on verge of scoring in the fourth quarter before Melifonwu made his second interception of the game, in the end zone with 9 minutes, 56 seconds left.
Another drive stalled when Walker fumbled on the UConn 25-yard line with 4:23 remaining.
Walker completed 12 of 18 for 215 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Owls rushed for 216 yards, with Ryquell Armstead gaining 133 and Thomas adding 83.