Critical Showdown

Temple head coach Steve Addazio noted he spoke to many of his contacts in college football who watched the Owls' 35-31 loss to Ohio last Wednesday on ESPN and commented on the quality of play. But make no mistake about it, Addazio will take an ugly win over a well-played loss any day, and he and the Owls need a victory any way possible in a game Wednesday against Miami (Ohio).

Temple head coach Steve Addazio noted he spoke to many of his contacts in college football who watched the Owls' 35-31 loss to Ohio last Wednesday on ESPN and commented on the quality of play.

But make no mistake about it, Addazio will take an ugly win over a well-played loss any day, and he and the Owls need a victory any way possible in a second straight nationally-televised mid-week game Wednesday against Miami (Ohio) at Lincoln Financial Field.

Temple is 5-4 (3-3 Mid-American Conference) and saddled with a two-game losing streak, putting it on the verge of being eliminated from the MAC East Division race and leaving its bowl possibilities in doubt. A win tonight would make the Owls bowl-eligible – they found out last year bowl-eligible doesn't guarantee an invite – as well as knock one of their competitors for the division crown and a bowl bid down a notch.

Miami, which comes in 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the MAC, is just as desperate as the Owls.

"I want to tell you something, I really like our football team and I see a lot of positives happening right now and I see an extremely competitive, talented football team," said Addazio. "Would we like to be 8-1? Sure. But a true Temple fan is proud of that team and you see the growth. That's important. I can't lose sight of that and I won't. Now, we have to get a win.

"I thought we took an important step as a team in that loss. Now will that step continue? If it doesn't, it's just good talk. If it does, something was gained. I hope we're an edgy football team right now. We should be an edgy football team right now."

The game will mark the first start for redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer, who ran for 184 yards and threw for 123 and three touchdowns after replacing Chester Stewart on the third series against Ohio.

"He gave us an element we've been looking for all year," said Addazio "I think he's just being himself and taking those reps and working real hard to continue to improve his game. You're talking about someone who does not have a tremendous amount of experience starting, he's still a relative young player. He's focused on doing his job and he's done a good job with that."

Another factor Wednesday will be the availability of junior running back Bernard Pierce. Already nursing a nagging hamstring injury, Pierce suffered a head injury at the end of the loss to Ohio.

Addazio gave no indication on Monday's MAC Conference Call whether Pierce would be available, and the Owls certainly could use FBS' second-leading touchdown scorer – even at less than 100 percent.

"We'll just have to wait and see," said Addazio.

The Owls' defense will be trying to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Ohio, where the Bobcats and quarterback Tyler Tettleton put up over 500 yards of offense and drove the field for the winning touchdown in the final minutes.

Temple got little pressure on Tettleton, who was also able to buy himself extra time on a couple key third-down conversions.

"We didn't get pressure, (and) they have good players," said cornerback Kee-ayre Griffin. "We let him scramble, and of course coverage is going to be difficult."

The Owls will have another challenge on defense Wednesday as Miami quarterback Zac Dysert (2,364 yards, 16 touchdowns) and receiver Nick Harwell (54 receptions, 895 yards) are two of the better players at their positions in the league.

"(Dysert) stays in the pocket, tough kid, but I'm pretty sure if he had to make plays with his feet he will," said Griffin. "The defense just has to step up the occasion and play lights-out football."

The best the Owls can do is finish 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the MAC. Last year, an identical record left them out in the cold when bowl bids were handed out.

"As a competitive player, it's a tough situation, but as a competitor we have to win out," said Griffin. "Winning is the priority."

And that starts Wednesday night.

"We've been pushing that rock up the hill, we didn't let it roll backwards on us (last Wednesday), but we didn't get it over the top," said Addazio. "That's where we are right now, get it over the top. Don't let it roll back."

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