By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple Owls will open American Athletic Conference play on Thursday night with a big challenge when they visit #21 South Florida down in Tampa.

This will be the second straight game the 2-1 Owls have had to prepare for on a short week. This past Friday they beat UMass at the Linc, 29-21. The Owls pass rush was dominant against the Minutemen as Temple finished with nine sacks in the win.

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“I’ve been really pleased with how they’ve been getting off the ball,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins tells KYW Newsradio. “Understanding when the pass rush situations are presenting themselves and putting some pressure on the quarterback, did a great job of that. That’s really two weeks in a row of getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback.”

Redshirt freshman DE Quincy Roche had three of those sacks against UMass, along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. That performance earned him AAC Defensive Co-Player of the Week honors.

The Owls will need a great pass rush and a great overall defensive effort against a potent South Florida offense. The Bulls come into Thursday night with a 3-0 record and they average 40 points a game with senior quarterback Quinton Flowers leading the way.

“They are averaging 101 plays a game,” Collins says. “And that’s hard to do. They’ve got a very fast tempo offense. He’s got play makers all over the field, he trusts them.

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“It’s a really complete offense,” Collins adds. “They spread you horizontally and then they spread you vertically and then they run the ball with some really good running backs and a big offensive line.”

Collins breaks down some keys for his squad in this one.

“Protecting the ball on offense,” he says. “Don’t want to give them any more possessions. Then on defense we’ve really got to focus in on tackling in space and then once we get the guy tackled, going for that ball and trying to give our offense more possessions.”

Last season these two teams played at the Linc and Temple came away with a 46-30 win.

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Thursday night’s game down in Tampa gets underway at 7:30pm.