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NCAAF: Seeking 9th straight win, Houston visits upset-minded Temple

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Since dropping its opener to Texas Tech, Houston has transformed into one of the best teams in the country.

The Cougars, ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25, will be looking for their ninth consecutive victory and a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2015 when they visit Temple on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Houston (8-1, 6-0 AAC) last won nine in a row in 2015. It won a wild 54-42 game last Saturday at South Florida.

“We’ve made progress this year,” Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’re excited about playing another meaningful game in November.”

While Houston looks to be a heavy favorite against the reeling Owls (3-6, 1-4), nothing is guaranteed. That much was proven in the 12-point victory over the two-win Bulls.

“It’s hard to keep winning,” Holgorsen said. “You’re gonna get everyone’s best shot. You better prepare for the game.”

If Houston hopes to continue its winning streak, it will need to execute better against Temple.

The Cougars allowed 399 total yards to USF and also surrendered a pair of 100-yard kickoff returns.

While the wins keep adding up, there is a massive room for improvement.

“Defensively, we didn’t play our best game,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t get to the quarterback. … What happened on the kickoff returns was unacceptable. It’s been a real problem and we’ve got to get it fixed.”

However, quarterback Clayton Tune continued to excel, completing 21 of 26 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’ve just kind of learned to tune out the noise and not really worry about what people are saying because it doesn’t really matter,” Tune said. “What matters is what the team thinks and what I think and the ability that I know that I have.”

Temple will hope to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when it faces Houston.

Following a thrilling 34-31 victory over Memphis on Oct. 2, the Owls have been outscored 180-27 in losses to No. 2 Cincinnati, South Florida, UCF and East Carolina.

Temple was crushed 45-3 last week against the Pirates as it missed two early field goals, fell behind 21-0 and never recovered.

Despite the struggles, head coach Rod Carey insists that the team remains focused.

“We’re in this together and they understand that,” Carey said. “We’ve had these discussions and they’ll continue to stay together. They’re a pretty bonded group.”

The youthful Owls were expected to endure some growing pains this season. Just not to this degree.

All they can do is regroup and attempt to pull off a stunning upset against the ever-improving Cougars.

“As you go through it, I don’t make excuses,” Carey said. “We have to coach them better. There’s a lot of youth. Even with the older guys back there’s a lot of youth and inexperience. We have to coach them better and get them moving in the right direction.”

It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Temple — D’Wan Mathis or Justin Lynch. Mathis is banged up and wasn’t on the practice field Monday.

Both quarterbacks struggled mightily against East Carolina.

“We’re going day by day,” Carey said. “We’ll plan for him (Mathis) being available. Justin has to prepare and get ready as well.”

–Field Level Media

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