By Ed Benkin

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It is appropriate with Halloween approaching that the Temple Owls have risen from the dead.

After an opening night loss to Army and a crushing conference defeat at Memphis, few believed the Owls would contend this season in the American Athletic Conference. However, a pair of impressive wins over Central Florida and highly-touted South Florida have put Temple in the driver’s seat in the East division. Now, players such as receiver Ventell Bryant know this is no time for the Owls to take the foot off the gas pedal with four games to play.

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“We’re not taking anything lightly,” said Bryant. “We know what we have to do. We want to be in our conference championship again. We have to have that edge and that hunger that we did for USF and UCF.”

Temple, USF and UCF each have one conference loss. However, the Owls own the tiebreakers over their Florida foes thanks to their head-to-head victories. If Temple wins its last four games, the Owls will go back to the conference championship game on December 3rd. The next test for Matt Rhule’s squad will be on Saturday at the Linc against 4-3 Cincinnati.

“We’re playing against a dynamic offense,” Rhule said. “It’s an offense that threw the ball up and down the field against us last year. We know it will be a tremendous challenge. They had 34 first downs against us last year. That’s an unheard of number.”

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The Temple rushing attack has been dominating over the past two games, but quarterback Phillip Walker has also performed well. The senior knows it is important for the Owls to focus on Cincinnati and not the standings with four games remaining.

“It feels great,” said Walker. “But at the end of the day, the picture can change at any moment. You’ve got to go out there at a high level. If we don’t, we won’t be in control of our own destiny.”

The seniors have done their part to control that destiny. In addition to wins, the Owls needed leadership after being hit hard by graduation. The seniors have helped to set the tone for the younger players and Rhule knows everyone on the roster will have to make an impact down the stretch.

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“We’ll go as far as our older players want to go and as far as younger players will let us go.” Rhule said.