Today we're excited to be joined by Jake Hyman, Temple beat writer over at Underdog Dynasty, to talk about the upcoming match-up between the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Temple Owls. The long-time basketball rivals have never met in football, and their first game should be a good one.
HustleBelt: Temple is coming off a program-defining win against Penn State and what many might consider a road upset of Cincinnati. What exactly are the Owls doing that is leading to these big wins?
Jake Hyman: The guys up front are winning the battle, Jahad Thomas has developed into the definite lead back and the defense has proved that 2014 wasn't a facade. Temple's paved lanes for Thomas to cut through and let him work in space, something that was rare last season. P.J. Walker hasn't been consistently pressured and he's said he feels a lot more poised in the pocket and not trying to make the 'big play'.
HB: While they have an extensive basketball history these two teams have never faced each other in football. What can UMass expect on Saturday?
JH: A team that's not overlooking the Minutemen. Matt Rhule has consistently talked about maintaining focus this week and getting his players ready to compete. Temple's offense isn't explosive, but they've been reliable so far in 2015. On defense, anybody has the chance to step up and make plays. Haason Reddick and Sharif Finch did it against Penn State, and Alex Wells picked off two passes against Cincinnati. They realize the potency of UMass and their skill position players.
HB: How does Temple win this game?
JH: Temple wins by containing Tajae Sharpe on the outside and making UMass beat them on the ground. Matt Rhule talked about Blake Frohnapfel being an NFL quarterback and future draft pick. Temple has to stop the air raid attack and make a couple of key plays.
On the offensive side of the ball, the offensive line has to continue to step up like they have in the first two weeks of the season, while P.J. Walker has to maintain consistency. Turnovers cost the Owls games last year, but they've limited mistakes so far.
HB: How does Temple lose this game?
JH: Frohnapfel and Sharpe have to break through this potent Owls defense. Gunner Kiel and Cincinnati put up 427 yards through the air Saturday. UMass has to get over the 300 yards passing margin while Sharpe has to win his one-on-one battles. UMass let up 390 yards rushing against Colorado. Stopping Thomas is necessary to pull of the upset.
HB: What's your prediction for Saturday?
JH: It won't be a blowout, but Temple's skilled on both sides of the ball and is being coached masterfully by Rhule currently. Temple comes out of Foxborough with the 34-24 victory.