When Matt Rhule took over the Temple Owls this season, the bar of expectations was set pretty low. A new system with a program in the middle of a rebuilding project was not a recipe for great success right away. But the Owls had certainly hoped for better than 1-9 in 2013 as Temple is still searching for that first conference win in the Rhule era. But on the bright side, the Owls have been improving steadily all season long which should culminate in their first AAC win of the season this week against the Connecticut Huskies.
Throughout the season, Temple has shown some mental toughness and hung in some tight games right until the end. During losses two through four to start the season, the Owls fell by nine points, one point and two points, respectively. While their opponents weren’t the toughest on their schedule, Temple was keeping it close and that was something that Rhule could build off of.
And since the team got their first win of the season on October 19 against the Army Black Knights, Temple has looked like a team on the verge of finding the win column against quality opponents. They hung tough in back-to-back road games agaisnt the SMU Mustangs and Rutgers Scarlet Knights before pushing the No. 18 Central Florida Knights to the brink at home. A late deep pass, however, set up the winning field goal for UCF and the upset bid for the Owls fell just short 39-36.
But Temple showed plenty of good things to build off of in that game that they can use to dominate Connecticut. The Huskies are winless in 2013 up to this point and have only seemed to get worse as the season has gone along. Since dropping a 13-10 game against the South Florida Bulls, UConn has been blown out in their last four losses by 25, 45, 21, and 17 points respectively. They fired their coach earlier in the season and it has only seemed to make things worse for the program.
While the records are similar, Temple is a struggling team that is on the verge of turning things around hosting a Connecticut squad that has not been competitive for quite some time. It should provide the perfect opportunity for the Owls to break into the win column in conference play and start to build some momentum for 2014 in year two under Matt Rhule.