East Carolina vs. Temple prediction and game preview. The Pirates hit the road to face off against the Owls in Philadelphia on Saturday.
East Carolina vs. Temple Game Preview
When: Saturday, November 26 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Navy is waiting for a partner to face in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. The Midshipmen have already won the West. The East will belong to Temple if it wins Saturday night or if South Florida loses earlier in the day to UCF. The Owls have authored another solid season under Matt Rhule, winning their last five, including back-to-back shutouts and a key Oct. 21 victory over the Bulls. East Carolina peaked in Week 2 with an upset of NC State that had rookie head coach Scottie Montgomery celebrating at Dowdy-Ficklen. Since then, though, the Pirates have won just a single game, turning 2016 into an unexpectedly tough rebuilding year in Greenville.
What To Know About East Carolina
Montgomery inherited talent on offense, like record-setting wideout Zay Jones, do-everything athlete James Summers and transfer quarterback Philip Nelson. The problem is that Nelson hasn’t been fully healthy for a while and the O-line has been routinely abused. Defense? Even worse. The Pirates are giving up 36 points per game and 5.4 yards per carry, while ranking last in the FBS with only eight sacks. Coordinator Kenwick Thompson must develop more defensive playmakers in 2017 after seeing his kids gashed for 121 points over the last two games.
What to Know About Temple
After losing a number of key players to graduation, this was supposed to be a less prosperous year in Philly. But armed with a familiar blueprint of a rugged D and a north-south running game, Rhule has the Owls back in title contention. Temple trades flash for physicality, holding opponents to a league-low 18 points per game and 277 yards per game. It also has 32 sacks, led by defensive end Haason Reddick, who’s trying to battle back from a foot injury this week. The offense is simple and effective, Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead pounding out yards between the tackles to set up veteran quarterback Phillip Walker on play-action.
Offense: Temple. East Carolina would have had a better case a month ago, but the Owls are more efficient and less turnover prone.
Defense: Temple. Phil Snow is one of the most underrated defensive coordinators in America, a point he proves year in and year out.
Special Teams: Temple. Even without injured placekicker Aaron Jones, the Owls have been tight on special teams, with rookie Aaron Boumerhi filling in nicely after Jones went down.
Coaching: Temple. Rhule is a perennial candidate for a promotion. Montgomery is still in the embryonic stage of his head coaching career.
Intangibles: Temple. The Owls are 5-1 at the Linc. The Pirates are winless outside of Greenville. And a Temple win secures a division title.
Matchup To Watch
East Carolina QB Gardner Minshew vs. FS Sean Chandler and the Temple secondary
Minshew, a first-year JUCO transfer, is likely to get his fourth start, providing a head start for next season. He had his best game a week ago against Navy, throwing three touchdown passes, but must now face a sticky Temple secondary that ranks 13th nationally in fewest touchdown passes allowed.
Spread: Temple -20.5
East Carolina vs. Temple Prediction
East Carolina and Temple are traveling in opposite directions, and it’s hard to see that changing this week in Philadelphia. Rhule has his Owls focused in a businesslike fashion on a second straight East Division title. They’ll methodically wear down the shaky Pirate defense with a heavy dose of runs between the tackles. Meanwhile, Minshew will have all kinds of problems dealing with the nasty Temple D as well as the nasty weather of the Northeast at this time of year.
East Carolina vs. Temple Final Score Prediction: Temple 41, East Carolina 14