Temple has plenty of motivation when it comes to UConn

Philadelphia - Publicly, Temple coach Al Golden has said all the right things this week.

Between the four walls of the Owls' locker room at Lincoln Financial Field, however, expect a different story - and a more passionate one - to be told.

UConn, which plays Temple today at the Linc (noon, SNY), certainly believes that will be the case.

"They're gonna remember the fact that the guy was in the end zone (or) wasn't in the end zone," said Husky quarterback Zach Frazer, referring to the 2007 UConn-Temple game in East Hartford when Temple's Bruce Francis appeared to catch a game-winning touchdown pass in the waning seconds, only to have the play ruled incomplete and then not overturned by the replay booth. "It was a close call. ... It would upset me if that happened."

A year later, there was more heartbreak for Temple. This time, in driving winds and rain - the remnants of Hurricane Hanna, the Owls couldn't hold a 6-0 lead in the fourth quarter and ended up dropping a 12-9 decision in overtime when Donald Brown ran 7 yards for the game's only touchdown.

"None of those games matter," Golden said earlier this week. "Honestly, maybe they're story lines for you guys, but for us that hasn't even entered our building. We're a different team (and) they're a different team, certainly.

"(UConn was) a different team at the end of last year than they were at the beginning of last year. We've never done the things that they've done. We've never won a bowl game, we've never gone into South Bend and beat (Notre Dame), we've never beaten a team from the SEC and had those sort of wins, so this is a tremendous challenge. None of the games prior have any impact on this game, and I think our kids understand that."

Temple, which is off to a 2-0 start with close victories over Villanova and Central Michigan, also understands a victory over the Huskies (1-1) today could jump-start the Owls to something special this season.

"We're expecting to get their best game and we know that," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "Our guys know Temple is a tough football team … they're going to get after you and they're going to be physical.

"We're not a good enough football team to just show up and play. Every week, if we don't give respect to our opponent, we're setting ourselves up not to be successful. There's got to be a sense of urgency every week."

• UConn will play for the second straight week without senior linebacker Scott Lutrus. Lutrus suffered what appeared to be another stinger (neck and shoulder nerve damage) during the season opener at Michigan, the same injury that befell him in the opening week of 2009 at Ohio University. Lutrus would go on to play in only eight games.

c.banning@theday.com

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