The Temple Owls fell to South Florida in a pivotal division game Saturday night 44-23.
What it means
Temple remains atop the American Athletic Conference East Division, but the margin of error has shrunk significantly. South Florida now holds the head to head tiebreaker, and if the two teams are tied at the end of the season, South Florida will represent the East Division in the AAC Championship Game
In the third quarter, down 34-20 and Temple was facing a fourth down and two at the USF 22-yard line, Temple was penalized for a false start. The penalty yardage forced Temple to attempt a 45-yard field goal that was subsequently missed. Had the offense converted the fourth down and scored a touchdown, Temple would have been down by only a touchdown and would have momentum on their side.
Play of the Game
In the first quarter, Temple quarterback PJ Walker threw a pass off his back foot that was intercepted by South Florida cornerback Deatrick Nichols. USF was able to score on the very next play and gave USF the lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
Player of the game
South Florida running back Marlon Mack looked dominant at times. The sophomore ran 21 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Mack also had three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. Mack was able to show his power in between the tackles and displayed speed running to the edges. The Temple defense appeared to have trouble with the read-option early in the game and Mack and USF quarterback Quinton Flowers were able to wear down the Owls and gain big chunks of yardage.
The 84 points that the Owls defense has given up in the past two games are the most they had allowed since 2013 when they allowed 82 points in a two-game span against SMU and Rutgers.
Running back Jahad Thomas was able to crack the 1,000-yard threshold Saturday. He became only the 10th Owl ever to run for a thousand yards in a season.
Next Saturday, Temple takes Memphis in Philadelphia. Memphis fell late to Houston Saturday 35-34. The Owls will have a lot on the line and cannot afford to lose another conference game. If they defeat Memphis and USF loses to Cincinnati, Temple will clinch the AAC East Division. A loss coupled with a USF win means the USF Bulls will move into first place with a game to go. It is safe to say that this is the most important game of the season for Temple. Game time is 12 p.m.