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Friday, November 16, 2018

Commentary

Gridiron Spotlight Week 8: Top teams struggle


The Cougars have a great opportunity to take control over the division as the other top teams have struggled. | Thomas Dwyer/ The Cougar

The lack of success this season from teams like Navy and Memphis have upended the status quo in the American Athletic Conference.

With five games left in the regular season, Memphis has already equaled its total number of losses from last season, and Navy is just two losses shy of a second straight season with at least six defeats. This makes the number of impactful games decrease.

This weekend, the No. 20 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Temple Owls.

After losing its first two games of the season by a combined nine points, the Owls have reeled off four wins in its last five games, including a win over Navy in Annapolis. That is a confidence booster for Temple, but now it gets to welcome to town the best offense it has seen all season.

In a double whammy for Temple, the Bearcats have a top 10 rushing offense, which is by far the area where the Owls struggle the most, ranking just No. 92 in rushing defense.  In its six games thus far, Cincinnati has rushed for at least 150 yards every time and eclipsed 250 rushing yards in three (AAMU, UConn and Tulane) of those matchups.

In each of those three matchups, the Bearcats have won by double digits.  

On the flip side, Cincinnati has not faced an overall defense as good as Temple’s which comes in at No. 27 in the nation in yards allowed. Against a team that averages over 38 points per game, Temple will look to slow the Bearcats down. The best way to do that is to control the clock by running the ball and consistently moving the chains.

That is where the issue arises for Temple.

The Owls cannot seem to mount a consistent running attack. In its three losses, Temple has rushed for an average of about 117 yards. In its wins, that number jumps to almost 160 yards. To have a chance against its opponent, Temple will need to run the ball early and often against a team that is currently being given approximately a 60 percent chance to win, according to ESPN.

If Temple finds a way to win this game against Cincinnati, it will be a huge boon for the Cougars, who are currently sitting a dozen spots outside of the Top 25 and behind three teams in the AAC, including Cincinnati.

For Houston, to secure a NY6 Bowl berth, it will need to beat the highest ranked teams that it can, like No. 21 USF, but it will also need a couple of upsets to occur. That could start this weekend if the Owls find a way to tranquilize the Bearcats.

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