PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Last year, the University of Central Florida finished the season at 0-12. It will be a very different UCF squad which will take the field against Temple on Saturday night.
Under the guidance of first-year head coach Scott Frost, the Knights are off to a 3-2 start. Central Florida is also 1-0 in conference play, while Temple is a half-game behind the Knights with a 1-1 record in the American. This will be a critical game for Temple, and Owls Coach Matt Rhule knows his team will have its hands full with Frost’s squad.
“He’s really just an offensive innovating kind of guy,” said Rhule. “It’s a lot like the week before. We went into those games knowing we would see a lot of different things. With these guys, we have no idea what they’re going to do.”
Running Back Jahad Thomas was part of an Owls’ squad which beat Central Florida, 30-16, at the Linc last season. Thomas is well aware that he will see a much different group of Knights in Florida on Saturday night.
“They’re very impressive,” Thomas said. “They have some good players up front and some great linebackers. I’m looking forward to the challenge, but they’ve definitely turned that program around.”
Rhule is hoping to turn the fourth quarter around for his team. The Owls have had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter in all three of their defeats this season, but came up short and now sit at 3-3. For Rhule, it is a matter of his players rising to the challenge over the final 15 minutes of football.
“You better be ready to fight in the fourth quarter,” said Rhule. “I think in the third quarter or if we’re behind, we’re still kind of acting like we’re supposed to win. There’s no ‘supposed to,’ you have to go do it.”
This will be a pivotal game in Temple’s season. The Owls will only have to reach the .500 mark to be bowl eligible, but a loss on Saturday would seriously damage any hopes of winning the American East Division.
“We’ve got six games left,” Rhule said. “I told our seniors if you win all six, we go to the conference championship game. If you lose all six, you’re 3-9 and we’re tremendously disappointed. If you win three of six, you go to a bowl game. All of that is still there next week, so you better just try to find a way to win this week.”