How big is Temple’s Big East matchup with No. 15 Rutgers on Saturday at noon?
Well, rumor has it that the Owls expect to draw more for their college football team then than they do for their men’s basketball team Friday for its season-opening midnight madness at tiny, 3,200-seat McGonigle Hall.
All kidding aside – and let’s hope that was some serious kidding since the Owls have almost 70,000 seats available to be filled for Rutgers at Lincoln Financial Field – this is a big game, real big.
Temple, in its first year back in the big time of a BCS conference, has merely rattled off back-to-back wins to kick off its Big East campaign. The Owls have been impressive at times, maddening at others, and tough-as-nails at crunch time.
Kinda sounds a lot like Rutgers, especially the final aspect – which could make for an interesting afternoon in South Philly.
Thus far, the Scarlet Knights, under new coach Kyle Flood, have ground down opponents, essentially taking their will away as Jawan Jamison pounds at the opposing team’s defensive interior. They have a talented QB in Gary Nova and an outstanding LB in reigning conference defensive player of the year Khaseem Greene.
Temple mirrors all that quite well with Montel Harris (leader among active FBS rushers in 100-yard games with 24), Chris Coyer and rapidly rising freshman Tyler Matakevich, who has racked up 33 tackles in his last two games – victories against South Florida and Connecticut.
Rutgers (6-0 overall) beat the same two Big East foes to sit atop the conference standings at 3-0. Guess who checks in right behind the Knights. No. 16 Louisville? No. 21 Cincinnati? Try the Owls at 2-0.
Aside from the comparisons and the proximity of the programs – the schools are less than 70 miles apart – it often was suggested that Rutgers played a major role in forcing Temple’s ouster from the Big East back in 2004.
Payback, indeed, would be sweet in the Owls’ first crack at the Knights since then … and they’re good enough, and talented enough, especially if the coaching staff takes the shackles off Coyer, to deliver it in heading the upset watch this week.
No. 3 Oregon at Arizona State – Sun Devils coach Todd Graham may have taken weasel to another level with how he bailed at Pittsburgh following last season, but the dude can work an offense. With QB Taylor Kelly looking sharp pulling the strings, they just might have enough to shock the Ducks right out of whatever hideous garb they opt for in this one.
Brigham Young at No. 5 Notre Dame – This one almost seems too easy. The Irish, coming off a win for the ages, facing a struggling squad, but one equipped with a great defense and some talent across the board – cue the doomsday music.
No. 24 Iowa State at Oklahoma State – This one is too easy. The Cyclones are a nice team, a nice story, but they just don’t have the firepower to match up with an explosive squad that has underachieved and needs to placate the home crowd.