Temple Owls (3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Memphis Tigers (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 8PM EST
Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEM +9.5/MEM -9.5
Over/Under Total: 58.5
The Temple Owls come to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to face the Memphis Tigers in AAC Thursday night action. The Owls came up roses on Saturday with a thorough 45-20 win over SMU for their second win a row. They have also covered 4 of 5 spreads this season, including four straight since a week one loss to Army. Last season, an 8-2 Memphis bunch was hammered 31-12 by Temple in a bad road loss. Still, that was against a good 10-win Temple team and it remains to be seen if the Owls have the same venom this season. Memphis, however, fell to 3-1 with a 48-28 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday and there is no great shame in that. They even climbed back into the game after being down 27-7, getting it to 27-21, before Ole Miss pulled away late. They look for better results this week against a more manageable Temple bunch.
The Owls began the season with a loss to Army. Temple followed with a 38-0 win over Stony Brook, but then lost to Penn State, though it was a one-score game. A 48-20 win over Charlotte and the win over SMU on Saturday has gotten them on the right track. As they get into the meat of conference play this week and beyond, we will start to get a better idea of where they stand. On Saturday, Temple fell behind early, 7-0, before they started piling on the points, with the ground-game taking over.
Temple quarterback Phillip Walker is a fourth-year starter who has seen it all, going 2-10 in his first year to ten wins last season. He needs to smooth out his delivery and decision-making, with two more picks on Saturday giving him 7 on the season already. And he is nursing a bum shoulder, as he was limited to 18 throws on Saturday, of which he completed only 7. The run-game is a double-pronged attack with Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas, who combined for 4 touchdowns on Saturday. The two are a real handful for opposing defenses and are now on a roll. Some better play in the aerial attack would really go a long way on Saturday, as it was key in Templeís win over the Tigers last season.
If Temple wants to replicate their success of last season and make another run at the conference title, they will need the defense to be all it can be. Itís a defense that was suspected to among the best in the AAC. They return six starters from a top group last season, though itís not the six they would have picked if they had a choice. Other than a shutout win over FCS opponent Stony Brook, theyíve given up 102 points in four games. Anything more than a small step back for this unit will likely resonate in this game. Barring some unforeseen developments, this doesnít look like a 10-win team perhaps, but how far theyíve fallen from last season is really the biting question here and through 5 games, the answer is still unclear.
Memphis opened the season with some lopsided wins over outmanned opponents, including a 35-17 win over SE Missouri, a 43-7 win over Kansas, and a rollicking 77-3 win over Bowling Green. Memphisí Riley Ferguson threw for 343 yards against Ole Miss, but tossed three picks. Doroland Dorceus ran for 72 yards and a TD, while RB Anthony Miller added a TD run, while adding ten catches for 132 yards. Phil Mayhue added 6 catches. They compiled a respectable 474 yards on offense, but turnovers undermined their ability to hit the scoreboard with more regularity. One shouldnít worry too much about one bad game for Ferguson who has otherwise been pretty solid this season, hitting seven different receivers for touchdowns so far this season.
The Tigersí defense had given up just 27 points in three games prior to allowing 48 to Ole Miss, including 624 total yards on offense. Then again, thatís an Ole Miss offense that thrived even against the Alabama defense, so poor old Memphis didnít stand much of a chance. In fact, playing the circus-act offense of Ole Miss right before Temple could be a good thing, with the Owls just an easier group to contain, with a far-more conservative approach.
Still, we donít have a ton to go on with Memphis. After a strong opening to the season in 2015, they fell apart late and Temple caught them in that period when they notched their 31-12 win over the Tigers. Memphis looked good to start the season in Ď16, but with who theyíve played, it is hard to get a solid point-of-reference. And after the 48-28 loss to Ole Miss, somehow the picture isnít much clearer.
There is something about Temple that makes it easy to sleep on them. They have a pretty dull vibe and unlike last season when they actually got ranked, there isnít a lot about them that stands out this season. Memphis has flashed more explosiveness, but hasnít really passed a solid test yet. And this week, they might run into more resistance and have to grind more to a win. Iím taking the points.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Temple Owls plus 9.5 points.
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