The Owls look to continue their momentum this week as they take on the Buffalo Bulls. As you may recall, Buffalo beat Temple at the Linc last year in what most considered at the time to be a fairly significant upset. Lo-and-behold, the Bulls were pretty good and all things considered, should have beat the Rod Carey lead Northern Illinois squad in the MAC Championship. Truth be told, in a very winnable game for the Owls, the Bulls were still the better squad, Such is the case, Temple will be seeking revenge for last year’s debacle.
Gone are standout stars QB Tyree Jackson and WRs Anthony Jackson and KJ Osborn. The Bulls do return Jarrett Patterson and Kevin Marks, both of whom combined for 1800 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns from last year. So far through 3 games they have 477 yards rushing and 1 rushing touchdown. Freshman QB Matt Myers has also shown some running ability but also accounts for 480 pass yards and 5 touchdowns through 3 games. Not exactly stellar numbers if you average them out. He really struggled last week against Liberty. The offensive line does return a ton of experience, so the Temple DL will once again have to perform well. Three of their offensive lineman made Athlon’s preseason All-MAC team. One area they have really struggled is putting up points on the board, averaging only 22.7 and granted one game was against a ferocious PSU defense that is 7th in the nation in points allowed. I have no idea what happened against Liberty but the Bulls do have enough pieces in place to have success, it’s just a matter of executing.
On the surface, surrendering 35 points and 400+ yards of offense to Liberty seems to be quite a lot. That being said, QB Stephen Calvert and 6’4″ WR Antonio Gandy-Golden both shredded the Buffalo defense and both have legitimate NFL prospects. They are both really good and would be a problem for Temple had Liberty been on the schedule. As for the Buffalo defense itself, all-world MLB Khalil Hodge and DE Chuck Harris who combined for 187 tackles and 8 sacks are no longer manning the Buffalo defense. The attrition along the Buffalo DL is considerable since last year and was pause for concern during the off-season. However, senior LeDarius Mack (if that name seems familiar, it should), juniors Taylor Riggins and Malcolm Koons are solid replacements to last year’s group and are similarly as talented. They are all dynamic and continue to hound opposing offensive line’s all game. They will cause problems for the Temple offensive line and may actually be better than Maryland’s defense line.
The linebacking group has seen some upheaval as well and there are several new faces that have been contributors this season. Buffalo’s front 7 is actually pretty solid accounting for only 100 rush yards/game so far. It mostly stems from their solid DL but the LBs have stepped up to make plays too.
At DB, Joey Banks has had himself a strong senior season so far. Mostly out of necessity as the pass defense has struggled. Aapri Washington is just a sophomore but has the highest upside out of all their DBs with the most NFL potential. He is good, but the pass defense has failed to perform well in totality ranking 82nd in the country in pass yards allowed per game. That won’t get it done. Now granted, PSU is the 15th ranked scoring offense and simply beat down Buffalo in the 2nd half of their game, but Liberty was also able to take advantage. Their struggles occur in the redzone where they have allowed an 83% score conversion rate. They have also struggled a bit on 3rd downs, allowing 39% conversion rate, good for 81st in the country. Not terrible numbers all things considered, but at 1-2 now, that will have to improve if they want to make it to a bowl game. Liberty was an expected W, and now they have to find it from somewhere else.
The Buffalo Bulls present plenty of challenges to the Owls. Their offensive and defensive lines can create problems for the Owls, as it did for PSU and Liberty. Liberty broke out for 21 points in the 2nd quarter and PSU broke out for 28 in the 3rd quarter. If Buffalo can figure out a way to prevent opposing teams from scoring in bunches, they will be much improved. It’s that 1 quarter that has dropped the game for them. They aren’t as bad as their record suggests.
Keep an eye on their run game, if they can establish that with their two All-MAC RB’s, Temple may be in for a very long afternoon at Buffalo.