Temple has a lot to play for Saturday, in a 7 p.m. game against division rivals the Huskies.
When UConn comes to town, the Owls will not only be playing for bowl positioning (and looking to improve their 9-2 record), but also for the opportunity to play in the American Athletic Conference Championship game in two weeks.
“We look forward to playing against an extremely talented, hard-nosed tough UConn team,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule said, respecting his opponent as always.
But perhaps more important than even a conference title is the last appearance the Owls’ flock of seniors will ever make at Lincoln Financial Field.
“They’re leaving a legacy with the program,” Rhule said. “I am proud of the guys who are going on to play pro football and also the guys who won’t play football again.”
Temple boasts a slew of likely NFL players, guys like defenders Tyler Matakevich, and Matt Ioannidis, center Kyle Friend and more than a half-dozen others.
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And while they are inching closer to their highest career aspiration, they are still Owls for a few more weeks.
“I challenge them not to get emotional,” Rhule said. “Sometimes on Senior Day you can get emotional. I challenge them to go out and play.”
Temple won’t have a cake-walk against the 6-5 Huskies.
While Temple beat a ranked opponent last week in Memphis, Connecticut did the same against then No. 21 Houston.
The Owls have been ranked No. 25 and hope to improve that number with a win against the Huskies Saturday.
“They’re like us,” Rhule said, characterizing UConn’s style of play. “They like to play defense, special teams and run the football.”
Temple will also rely on the run, and if they can successfully move the chains and maintain possession of the ball, it could be the difference between a berth to the American title game or staying home on December 5