PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Temple will play its final home game of the regular season on Saturday when the 5-5 Owls (3-3 American Athletic Conference) host UCF (9-0 overall, 6-0 AAC).
The Owls picked up a nice road win last time out on Friday when they beat Cincinnati, 35-24.
“I thought we started fast on both sides of the ball,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins tells KYW Newsradio. “[We] went into halftime with a shutout [13-0]. Obviously, we would’ve loved to keep that. But I thought the kids played well, they played together, they played hard, they played physical and that’s our recipe for success and that’s our brand of football.”
A key play in the win over the Bearcats came midway through the third quarter. Cincinnati scored a touchdown to pull to within 20-14, but Isaiah Wright returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and the Owls never looked back.
“The thing about that play, we had three walk-ons that had to come in and play on that play due to injuries and all three of them had key blocks to spring Isaiah,” Collins says.
The Knights will present a tough challenge on Saturday. Their undefeated record is keyed by an offense that scores 48.6 points a game. That offense is led by sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton who has thrown for 2,720 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 350 yards and four more scores.
“He’s got a great release,” Collins says of Milton. “They’ve got a great scheme. He understands the scheme, he’s able to put the ball where it needs to be. He reads coverages very well, knows where to go with the football. He’s athletic and his accuracy is something that is really impressive, too. You can tell just watching him he’s a tremendous leader, does a good job getting the guys rallied around him.”
Temple needs to win one of its last two games to reach six wins and become bowl eligible.
Last season, Temple beat UCF down in Orlando, 26-25, rallying from down 25-7 and scoring the winning touchdown on a Keith Kirkwood catch with one second remaining in regulation.
Saturday’s game at the Linc kicks off at noon.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleonkyw.