Five issues to watch

1. Momentum. The Owls finished last year by winning four of their last five games, including a 28-3 triumph over Florida International in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The Owls seemed to feed off that in spring practice and training camp.

2. Nonleague schedule. Last year, the Owls opened with a 49-16 loss at Notre Dame, and it took a while to recover. There won't be any Notre Dames on the schedule, although Buffalo is underrated, and the Bulls' Anthony Johnson is one of the best receivers the Owls will face. There also will be road games at Power Five schools Maryland and Boston College, in addition to the opener against Villanova. Anything less than a 3-1 mark in these games would be disappointing for the Owls. Temple went 2-2 in nonleague action last year, including a loss Army.

3. Closing the gap among the elite. The Owls lost to the two teams above them in the American Athletic Conference's East Division, champion Central Florida and South Florida, by a combined 88-26 score. Temple appears to be improved, and how the Owls fare against these teams will tell a lot.

4. Rebounding Bryant. Ventell Bryant went from 54 receptions as a redshirt sophomore to 29 in a difficult season last year. He is intent on regaining his form.

5. Utilizing Isaiah. Junior receiver Isaiah Wright can do so much besides stretch a defense. He returned a punt and kickoff for TDs last year. During the preseason, there was talk of his getting around 15 touches a game.

Five key games

Saturday vs. Villanova, noon, Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Geoff Collins earned his first career win in last year's 16-13 victory over the Wildcats. If Temple is improved, it shouldn't struggle with an FCS team, even through Villanova is traditionally one of the better ones.

Saturday, Sept. 29, at Boston College, time TBD. Former Temple coach Steve Addazio meets his old team. From the Owls' perspective, it is a chance to compete against a solid Power Five team coming off a 7-6 season.

Thursday, Nov. 1, at Central Florida, 7:30 p.m. The defending AAC champs went 13-0 and have been picked to defend their title with junior QB McKenzie Milton, who threw 37 TD passes.

Saturday, Nov. 10, at Houston, TBD. Houston won at the Linc, 20-13, last year. The Cougars will be a serious contender in the AAC West Division.

Saturday, Nov. 17, vs. South Florida, TBD. The Owls will seek revenge after last year's 43-7 loss in Tampa.

Frank Nutile (8) is the unquestioned leader of the offense.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Frank Nutile (8) is the unquestioned leader of the offense.

Five players to watch

1. Ryquell Armstead, 5-11, 215, Sr., RB. Armstead didn't miss a game but was banged up all season. If healthy, he could be a 1,000-yard rusher.

2. Frank Nutile, 6-4, 225, Grad., QB. He went 4-2 after taking over the job last year and is the unquestioned leader of the offense.

3. Delvon Randall, 6-1, 215, Sr., S. The lone first-team all-AAC selection last year, Randall is a ballhawk with eight career interceptions.

4. Michael Dogbe, 6-3, 280, Grad., DT. Yes, he bench-pressed 500 pounds, but he also is an immovable force against the run.

5. Rock Ya-Sin, 6-2, 190, Sr., CB. A transfer from Presbyterian, he has already drawn some NFL buzz.