After edging Houston in an American Athletic Conference showdown last week, No. 19 Central Florida enters Saturday’s visit to last-place Temple alone atop the conference standings. The Knights overcame three turnovers to topple the Cougars 19-14 and are inching toward the automatic BCS berth that comes with winning the American, though coach George O‘Leary remains focused on the Owls. “Every game is a new adventure,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “(The players) have to work.”
Temple is coming off a bye week, looking to snap a two-game losing skid in what would be a huge upset victory. The Owls have used the extra time to shake off the sting of a 23-20 loss to Rutgers Nov. 2 - a game in which they blew a 13-3 halftime lead - and first-year coach Matt Rhule told the Philadelphia Daily News his team is in good spirits. “We lost a championship-caliber game like that but the kids responded the right way. They’re ready to go.”
TV: 12 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: Central Florida -16.5
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (7-1, 4-0 AAC): Blake Bortles, ranked 10th in passing efficiency (164.1) among FBS quarterbacks, followed up a career-high four touchdown performance over Connecticut with his second-lowest yardage total of the season (210) against Houston, throwing a pick and failing to find the end zone. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is expected to play against Temple after passing baseline testing following a concussion against the Cougars. Perriman leads the Knights with 567 receiving yards on 27 catches this season.
ABOUT TEMPLE (1-8, 0-5 AAC): P.J. Walker has helped the Owls revive their offense since taking over as their starting quarterback. Temple, which averaged 15.8 points through its first five games, has seen that figure nearly double to 30.5 in Walker’s four starts, with the freshman amassing 1,094 yards on 80-of-128 passing and 11 touchdowns. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads all AAC tacklers with 113 on the season.
1. UCF is 5-4 all-time against Pennsylvania schools, though the Knights have never faced Temple on the gridiron.
2. Knights RB Storm Johnson’s 719 rushing yards leads the AAC, while Temple RB Zaire Williams (486) ranks seventh.
3. The Knights had three turnovers to Houston’s two last week, marking the fourth straight game they’ve won despite losing the turnover battle.
PREDICTION: Central Florida 37, Temple 13