One of the nation's biggest surprises in this early season has to be Temple. The Owls (-23.5) take a 3-0 record into Friday night's nationally televised game at Charlotte.
Owls A Success Story
Can you even tell me who Temple's head coach is? I'm sure you know who it used to be: Miami's Al Golden. He left after the 2010 season and was replaced by Steve Addazio, who left after 2012 for Boston College. Now the coach is Matt Rhule, and he's doing a terrific job. The Owls were just 2-10 in his first season, which was also their first year in the American Athletic Conference. They improved to 6-6 a year ago and are off to a 3-0 start here.
And it's not like the Owls are beating up on bad teams. They opened the year with a very impressive 27-10 win over Penn State, Temple's first win over PSU in 74 years. Temple hadn't won in the series since Oct. 18, 1941, two months before the United States entered World War II. In Week 2, the Owls went to preseason AAC favorite Cincinnati and won 34-26. And then on Sept. 19, Temple won at UMass 25-23. Austin Jones' 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds left was the winner. Temple's Praise Martin-Oguike blocked an extra point with 1 minute, 20 seconds left, and teammate Will Hayes returned it for two points to cut the Minutemen's lead to one point at 23-22. Then Jones delivered the heroics.
Last year, the Owls were 1-3 in games decided by eight points or fewer. They are 2-0 in such games in 2015. Temple probably isn't going to get ranked with a win here but it's getting closer. The school hasn't been ranked since 1979. ESPN gives Temple a 70 percent chance of winning its next four games -- this one, vs. Tulane, vs. Central Florida and at East Carolina -- before playing No. 6 Notre Dame.
Owls QB P.J. Walker has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 615 yards, three scores and two picks. Jahad Thomas leads the team in rushing with 80 carries for 394 yards and four scores. The junior running back has eclipsed his 2014 yardage total already. Robby Anderson is the leading receiver with 12 catches for 112 yards and a score.
Temple is looking to start 4-0 for the first time since 1974. It is trying to win back-to-back-to-back games on the road for the first time in school history. The Owls have never faced Charlotte. Temple is 2-1 against the spread on college football picks this year and 1-2 'over/under.'
Welcome To FBS!
Charlotte is in its first season as an FBS football program and plays in Conference USA. But it won't be bowl eligible until next year. Charlotte was a member of Conference USA from 1995-96 to 2004-05. The 49ers joined the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2005-06 and stayed in that league through the 2012-13 season. But they were an FCS independent in football the past two years.
The 49ers opened the season with a 23-20 win at Georgia State. Then they beat Presbyterian 34-10. However, Charlotte has dropped its past two, 73-14 to Middle Tennessee and on Saturday, 17-7 at home to Florida Atlantic. That was Charlotte's first-ever Conference USA home game and first night home game. Kalif Phillips rushed for a season-high 165 yards in that loss, his ninth career 100-yard game. But the 49ers' two quarterbacks, Lee McNeill (11-of-31; 89 yards, 4 INTs) and Matt Johnson (0-3; 0 yards; 2 INTs) combined for only 89 passing yards. Charlotte’s 206 yards of total offense were the fewest in school history.
The Charlotte defense held an FAU team that came in averaging 480.7 yards per game to just 184 yards. Larry Ogunjobi had a career-best 11 tackles and matched his school-record with four tackles for loss. He leads Conference USA with 7.5 tackles for loss. Charlotte leads Conference USA in total defense, allowing 345.8 yards per game.
But the 49ers had seven turnovers against Florida Atlantic, including one that was returned for the final touchdown, and they also mishandled the snap on a punt attempt that set up FAU's first touchdown. The 49ers have not won the turnover margin in any game this season.
Charlotte is 1-2 ATS this season on college football odds and 1-2 O/U.
College Football Free Pick: Temple & Charlotte 'UNDER' 48 (-106) at Pinnacle