Temple: Playing with House Money

The key to the game might be players like Sean Daniels and Shahbaz Ahmed getting into the backfield and causing havoc with turnover-prone Notre Dame QB  Tommy Rees.

The key to the game might be players like Sean Daniels and Shahbaz Ahmed getting into the backfield and causing havoc with turnover-prone ND QB Tommy Rees.

The largest on-campus watch party will be held at the Performing Arts Center (Mitten Hall for us older grads). Click on the photo for a complete list of parties from coast to coast and abroad. Must admit I'm disappointed in the number of Philadelphia-area parties on this list (two).

The largest on-campus watch party will be held at the Performing Arts Center (Mitten Hall for us older grads). Click on the photo for a complete list of parties from coast to coast and abroad. Must admit I’m disappointed in the number of Philadelphia-area parties on this list (two). For specific addresses of parties, click over the name of the town.

“Have fun.”

Those were the last words Temple head football coach Matt Rhule told his team before they boarded a flight to Notre Dame this week.

Those will probably be the  words Rhule uses before the Owls take the field tomorrow (3:30 p.m., NBC-TV, Channel 10, 97.5 The Fanatic).

If there’s one advantage the Owls have, that’s it.

They will be the team playing fast and loose with nothing to lose. Notre Dame has everything to lose.  The Irish are 29 1/2-point favorites.  That line is probably skewed by Notre Dame’s national reputation on one hand and Temple’s 20-year-long college football nightmare prior to Al Golden’s revival of the program on the other.

The Owls are playing with house money. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Ask the Towson University kids. The Tigers were facing a similar situation Thursday night at UConn. No one expected them to win or come close against the Huskies, yet they won, 33-18.

Click on Daily News logo for its story on Matt Rhule's first game.

Click on Daily News logo for its story on Matt Rhule’s first game.

A packed Rentschler Field at the beginning of the game had about 100 fans there over the last five minutes when UConn attempted a feeble comeback. This was the same UConn program (if not team) that won at Louisville last year.

Anything can happen in college football.

It’s football, not rocket science. The keys to winning against Notre Dame are the same keys to Temple beating, say, South Florida:  Limit turnovers , protect your quarterback and put the other guy on his backside.  In those areas, there is some promise for Temple. The Owls have made a priority out of fixing their offensive and defensive lines in the offseason are in good shape there. If they can get pressure on turnover-prone Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, they can even the playing field in a hurry.

The task facing the Owls is daunting. Notre Dame gets four- and five-star recruits that it can pick and chose from. Temple has to recruit out of its mind to get three-star recruits.

With Rhule that’s changing but it’s an evolving process.

Still, everybody has the same amount of stars when they take the field and that’s the approach the Owls will have to take. The Fighting Irish are 57-12-1 against teams making their first visits to Notre Dame Stadium but three of those victories have come in the past four seasons: Connecticut in 2009, Tulsa in 2010 and South Florida in 2011.

Notre Dame fans had to feel just as confident leading up to those games as they do now.

Click on the logo to get to the best of several good Notre Dame blogs I've found.

Click on the logo to get to the best of several good Notre Dame blogs I’ve found.

Notre Dame has two first-round draft choices on its defensive line. Temple’s strength is its offensive line, which averages 300 pounds across the front. One of those Irish  players the new OL has to contend with is DE Stephon Tuitt, who was slowed by a sports hernia for the second half of last season, started practice in August about 15 pounds heavier than last season. Tuitt had a team-high 12 sacks last year but he might not be moving as well now as he did then.  The other first-round pick is nose guard Louis Nix, but he’s going up against Temple sophomore center Kyle Friend who Rhule calls “probably the toughest guy I’ve ever coached.” Rhule coached first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson, who is now a star with the New York Jets, so that’s high praise.
The thinking here is that there is a talent gap between Temple and Notre Dame right now that’s pretty wide (duh?), not quite as wide as the talent gap between Fordham and Temple, but, say, Temple and Wyoming.
Temple is going to try just as hard as those Wyoming kids tried in the New Mexico Bowl.
To beat Temple, Wyoming needed a few bounces to go its way.
The Cowboys didn’t get them and Temple won, 37-15. Unless Ahmed and Daniels meet at the quarterback on a regular basis, that’s the score I’m picking. If Ahmed, Daniels, Levi Brown, Kamal Johnson and Averee Robinson all get chances to help Rees off the ground, that changes the whole dynamic.
The ball is pointed and not round and sometimes takes funny bounces.
Ask Towson.
Prediction: Notre Dame, 37-15
Related:
Some good film footage here:
Tomorrow: Complete analysis of the game
Sunday: The Road Ahead
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10 thoughts on “Temple: Playing with House Money

  1. does WNDU know something we all don’t? they used the TEMPLE logo on the helmet instead of the ‘][‘

    • My head is spinning on this helmet question. I’ve seen the plain Cherry, last year’s Temple T, the old TEMPLE helmet. I posted on Facebook that the only thing that WON’T surprise me is to see the Temple T alone again. A parent responded “you WILL be surprised” which means, if I’m interpreting this correctly, the helmet won’t be last year’s Temple T. (I’m hoping for TEMPLE or a TEMPLE and a T hybrid King Solomon/Daniel Webster compromise.) Just don’t give me those crappy UConn helmets I saw last night.

  2. There are no official watch parties, but im sure there will be plenty of Temple alum and students at the Fieldhouse downtown

  3. The Performing Arts Center might be the refurbished Baptist Temple Church, not Mitten Hall. The helmets are not an issue to me, as long as the uniforms are cherry and white. Black uniforms are not appropriate. Maybe black cherry (wishniak) or a bright maraschino cherry might make a sponsor happy, but black is not the school’s color.

  4. Before the season starts I’d like to give a huge “shout out” to Mike Gibson for an excellent job. Go Owls

  5. Great work, Mike. I’m thinking our principal means of shaking up the ND defense is one Chris Coyer. Disruptive force! We’ll see. Go Owls!

    • Thanks, Rob. Since you don’t work Saturdays, I hope I get to meet you in Lot K before one of the home games. I’m easy to spot (wear Temple game jersey with Papreps on the back). I’ll look for you, though. …. By the way, I think Coyer throws more than one pass out of the H-back formation. Rhule has a nice bag of tricks.

      • Mike…not sure which game(s) I’ll get to this year. I’ll keep you posted. And I was thinking the same about Coyer….give him the option to throw! I would think Rhule may trot out the gadget plays.

  6. Matt Rhule is going to pull out all the stops today. I hope our defense shows up.

  7. Love all the points here, but a little FYI for you all, Towson expected to be in the game and felt like they could beat UConn all summer. No one expected Towson to whip UConn for 60 minutes, but we did actually expect to win.

    Addazzio having some trouble with Nova right now and WVU is losing to W&M; great weekend for the CAA and upsets in general. Could we get a rainmaker @ 3:30?

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