5 Signs That Temple Will Beat Notre Dame

Reason No. 6 Owls will win: They did not make the cover of SI.

Reason No. 6 Owls will win: They did not make the cover of SI.

The first thing Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said to Temple’s Matt Rhule when he greeted him for a post-game handshake in 2013 was: “You have a good football team.” Much of that was coachspeak, but Kelly had the right assessment in the wrong year. Many of the players who played for Temple in that 28-6 loss are back for this year’s nationally televised game and there are five signs that point to this one ending differently.

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  1. The Rise of Memphis

Nobody thought fellow AAC member Memphis had a chance against an Ole Miss team that went to Alabama and waxed the Tide on the road, but the Tigers used a home field advantage in the Liberty Bowl and dominated Mississippi, 37-24. Memphis needed a field goal at the gun to beat Temple last year, 16-13. Ole Miss is arguably better than Notre Dame. Temple is arguably better than Memphis now.

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  1. The Last Game

Even though the Owls finished the 2013 season 2-10, an Irish team which finished 8-4 was not able to take them to the woodshed. With a first-year coach and many first-year starters, the game was 14-6 until 43 seconds remained in the first half. In the second half, the two teams played fairly evenly and the 28-6 score was respectable. Even though this ND team is better than that one, the Owls are exponentially better.

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  1. The GameDay Effect

This will be the first visit by ESPN’s College GameDay to Temple and first-time hosts have a 40-25 record. The first thing Temple athletic director Pat Kraft did when he learned the show was coming was to procure an extra head of Hooter, the team’s mascot, for show host Lee Corso to have under his desk.  On the other hand, the Luck of the Leprechaun has produced four losses in the last four Irish GameDay appearances.

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  1. ECU’s Game With Florida

Temple went into Dowdy-Ficken Stadium and came away with a 10-point win over East Carolina, the only home loss of the season for the Pirates. ECU is a good team which lost by a touchdown in the swamp to Florida, 31-24, a similar team in skill set to Notre Dame. If the Owls can handle that kind of foe on the road, they can certainly operate more comfortably in the friendly environment of Lincoln Financial Field.

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  1. Analytics Favor Owls

The Owls rank No. 5 in the nation in one of the most important statistics, scoring defense (14.6 ppg), ahead of Ohio State and Clemson, and it is no fluke as they returned all 11 starters from a defense that finished No. 4 a year ago. Notre Dame ranks No. 14 in scoring offense (38.3 ppg).  The Irish should have a tough time scoring against this defense and, if you cannot score, you cannot win.

No opinion, just cold analytical thinking.

No opinion, just cold numbers from a computer not affiliated with either TU or ND.


46 thoughts on “5 Signs That Temple Will Beat Notre Dame

  1. Best of luck to the Owls, but I think you’re sipping on some Kool-Aid here. I think the Owls will hang with the Irish or they may even have an advantage by halftime. Sometime during the 2nd half they’ll start to run out of gas though, especially if ND is getting yards on the ground early.

    • they won’t be getting yards on the ground against this defense.

      • I give you Temple’s opponents’ national rushing rankings without comment (other than to say that there are only 128 FBS teams playing):
        UNCC – 57th
        PSU – 93rd
        ECU – 100th
        UMass – 119th
        Tulane – 121st
        UCF – 127th

      • Mike,
        How does a team pull an upset over a more highly ranked opponent?
        1.) Play error free ball: Which Temple did for almost the entire game. That last interception was an amazing play by Russell, and the Temple player was open.
        2.) Create Turnovers: Which they did with the 2 interceptions in the Red Zone being what kept the game close.
        3.) Give yourself a chance in the last quarter: Did that too.

        Hats off to Temple.. They played a terrific game. As a die hard ND fan I was impressed ( and disappointed at the same time).

        So your comments about how Temple could pull off the Win was right on for the most part.

  2. 1. “Memphis needed a field goal at the gun to beat Temple last year.”

    Temple needed a field goal at the gun to beat UMass THIS year. If you’re using comparisons to teams/opponents from last year, it might also be important to note similar opponents this year… ND boat-raced UMass. (Also, Temple and Memphis haven’t even played each other yet. Using Memphis vs Ole Miss as a comparison for Temple vs ND is crazy when there is no evidence for comparison yet).

    2. The Owls ARE exponentially better than they were two years ago… but so is ND. I think you’re selling them a bit short there. The depth is better, the defense is better, and they are exponentially more battle-tested than Temple.

    3. I think the Gameday effect could produce negative side-effects, when you consider the emotional rollercoaster Temple will be on. ND has experience in these environments, Temple does not.

    4. Again, you’re comparing teams that have no basis for comparison. What ECU did/didn’t do against Florida means nothing in relation to ND.

    5. Temple’s defense is great, don’t get me wrong… but that is inflated by their week schedule. They’ve played only two opponents with top-50 offenses. They’ve played three of the worst offenses in football in UCF, Penn State and Tulane. They gave up 500+ yards to Cincinnati, and ND’s offense is more efficient than Cincinnati’s.

    I think Temple’s a good football team, but they’ve played no one… could they spring an upset? Sure. But I think the above evidence that you use is a lot of reaching.

    • I wouldn’t say beating a 5-2 PSU team is no one. Excuse me, totally dominating a team that destroyed Indiana and San Diego State. ECU, a team that beat Virginia Tech, is not a great team but to say ECU is no one is a stretch.

      • That doesn’t change the fact that Penn State’s offense is bad based on “analytics.”

        Though the Penn State game WAS a great win for the owls, and was an impressive performance regardless of Penn State’s offensive rankings.

        And again, ND destroyed UMass, a team Temple needed to escape at the last second.

    • Ken, Nick – I think we would all agree that Temple has to play the best game it can, and better than some of our previous games this season, to beat Notre Dame. Notre Dame is clearly better than anyone we played this year. Temple is definitely the underdog. But that is why they play the game, to see which team is better on game day. We think Temple has a decent shot at the upset. We will find out on Saturday night.

      • We will indeed!

        I really like Temple’s team. Their linebackers are disruptive and their running back is fun to watch. I was at the Temple/UC game, and didn’t think Temple would be athletic as they were.

        Is PJ Walker not very mobile? It seems that he moves pretty well within the pocket and does a good job of buying himself time to throw. I think there are times that if he would pull it down and run, the Owl’s offense would be even more efficient. But I’m not familiar enough to know for sure.

        Temple will be fired up for this game, and I think Rhule might be a good coach for harnessing that energy. However, I think Temple’s problems will manifest in ND’s offensive line. Temple is disruptive, but they haven’t yet been tested by a unit like ND’s. If they can’t pressure Kizer, Fuller/Brown/Robinson/Hunter/Jones will do some damage. I’m hoping that if Temple’s linebackers blitz a lot (which they are very good at), that the middle will be open for some quick-hitters, or maybe even some screens.

        I’m really looking forward to this game!

      • I know that the defensive front must be absolutely vicious and penetrate all game. If that does not happen we are going to lose. A few sacks could lead to a win.

  3. … amazing that you keep mentioning UMass but you never mention Virginia. UMass was an outlier for Temple just as Virginia was an outlier for ND. ECU, Cincy and PSU would destroy Virginia. Amazingly, ND did not.

    • Okay, that’s fair… but UMass still a similar opponent. Why would you use Memphis/Ole Miss and Florida/ECU to analyze Temple/ND, when Temple and ND have in fact played a similar opponent? That doesn’t make much sense to me.

      That’s an example of why I feel you’re reaching for evidence in this article. That, an the analytics used above I think must be flawed, because they don’t seem to take SOS into account nearly as much as home field advantage, which I think is questionable.

    • Navy beat ECU by 24. ECU is 4-4. I’m confused why you keep pointing to ECU as a very good team. ECU may upset Virginia but would absolutely not “destroy” them in any given game. Further, Temple had to escape ECU with that win. Every single ND fan was praying that Temple didn’t lay an egg there because we want/need an undefeated Temple team. Temple is a very good, mid-conference football team. So is Memphis. So is Toledo. Can these teams pull huge upsets? Certainly. But if Temple and ND both came with their respective A games ND would win by 14+. Hopefully it’s a good game.

      • what do you mean “upset” Virginia? ECU already beat Va. Tech and Tech is better than Virginia. Win by 14? The line is only 10. I guess you must be smarter than Vegas. If the line was made today, according to Sagarin, ECU would be the exact same 10-point favorite that ND is against Temple. The “Upset Virginia” comment shows a basic lack of knowledge of college football outside of the ND perspective.

      • do you even follow college football other than ND? No one in his right ,mind would say 2-5 Virginia is a better team than 4-4 ECU.

      • ECU isn’t as good as you think, and Virginia isn’t as bad as their record suggests. They’ve played tougher competition. I wouldn’t go to say that Virginia is better than ECU, but I’d say they’re more on par than you think. ECU is losing to UConn right now.

      • ECU was just absolutely hammered by UConn. What wild transitive thought can we use to make this a positive for Temple hanging on to beat ECU last week?

    • The Virginia – ND game is when Malik Zaire, the starting QB was injured for the season. It was Deshone Kizer’s (who was the third string QB in the spring) first exposure to real playing time. Kizer from Virginia is very very different from the one you’ll see tomorrow, so take that as you will.

    • The Virginia was when Malik Zaire was lost for the season. It was also Kizer’s (backup QB) first exposure to real playing time. Kizer from Virginia is very very different from the one you’ll face tomorrow, so take that as you will.

    • You really shouldn’t be comparing how teams fared against just one opponent, especially if you’re bringing in two teams to the discussion that have nothing to really do with Temple and Notre Dame (I’m talking about the comparison /w Ole Miss and Memphis). You’ve really got to look at the entire body of work of a team and the competition each team faced in the current year. Bringing up the Memphis vs. Temple game from last year doesn’t mean anything, both Temple and Memphis are different teams than they were last year, just as Notre Dame and LSU aren’t the same teams from 2014. Poor game plans and/or lack of execution are the reason any team can win on a given Saturday, not how they performed against one opponent back in September. For that reason Temple does have a chance, just as any team does, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Owls are a double digit underdog. They haven’t faced the same level of competition (ND’s SOS rank is 41 to Temple’s 198) so touting the scoring defense doesn’t make much sense.

      I’ll give you an example of why the Transitive Property doesn’t work in football. You said Memphis beat Ole Miss, and therefore Temple will beat the Irish because Temple beat Memphis last year and Ole Miss is better than Notre Dame. Now, lets look at this: Ole Miss was also beaten by Florida, quite badly. Florida, in turn, was beaten by LSU. LSU was beaten by Notre Dame in their bowl game last year. So…if ND beat LSU, and LSU beat Florida who destroyed Ole Miss, is ND still worse than Ole Miss? Maybe, maybe not. The only truth is that this entire paragraph, both our arguments, are illogical because they involve teams from last year and this is college football. Teams can and will preform differently from week to week, and certainly from year to year. Last year doesn’t matter. What matters is what each team is doing this year and how well they game plan and execute each Saturday.

      • Never said Temple would win “because” of this … just that it is one of a number of signs pointing the Owls’ way. Just for giggles, I went over to the Ole Miss message board the night before the Memphis game and they were just as dismissive of Memphis as Notre Dame fans appear to be dismissive of Temple.

      • I think Temple is a very good team, but Notre Dame is more battle tested and athletic. Notre Dame often faces teams that say “This is the biggest game in our program’s history.” I will say these teams do come out with an incredible energy level because of the stage they’re on, and it often keeps them in the game. Sometimes they even get the win, as Tulsa did back in 2010. More often than not the underdog can’t maintain that energy level and they wilt in the later quarters. I think Temple will need some turnovers and great execution on offense to win this game. If PJ Walker throws the ball well Saturday night he can attack the ND defense, that’s the best way to score on the Irish.

    • Although the final score of the UMass-ND game showed a rout, UMass gave them all they could take for a half. The game changed on an ND punt that was downed on the Umass 1. A poor punt followed and ND scored. In the second half of the TU UMass game TU was about to pull away several times and were stopped by drops and penalties so I don’t know how reflective the UMass game is of how the TU and ND game is going to turn out.

      • I agree. There’s is ample evidence of quit in UMass. I see no evidence of quit in Temple.

      • It probably isn’t a great reflection at all; which is why it’s funny that Mike Gibson will refute that point saying it’s “one game,” and yet he uses a comparison of TEAMS THAT HAVEN’T EVEN PLAYED EACHOTHER as two separate points in this article that is titled, “Signs that Temple Will Beat Notre Dame.”

        So his official article can use team comparisons (that don’t even apply) as evidence, but then he’s allowed to take issue with the UMass comparison?

  4. You all probably saw the 5 1/2 page article in Sports Illustrated about Temple. It was great to see an actual article (not just a listing sort of thing) even if it had several mistakes and omissions such as: Broad Street does not run through Rittenhouse Square or Logan Square (should be Circle) and Metakevich was overlooked by other schools mostly because of an injury, not just his smallish size coming out of HS. But no matter, this season so far and game with ND is bringing attention to North Broad no matter the outcome Saturday night. As for your evaluation Mike, these things can be argued forever so “that’s why they play the game.” This is all so fun and exciting. I’m hoping they end up with at least 9 wins, could be 10, in the regular season/AAC championship game, go to a better bowl and maybe just maybe add an 11th win and conference championship to break 2 more team records! Go Owls.

  5. Jon,
    as long as there is a mathematical possibility of winning 14 games, why not hope for that? I was so pleased to read that Jahad quote “conference championship, undefeated season, national championship, things of that nature.” Things of that nature are still on the table. It’s going to take Willie Mosconi-like luck and skill to run the table, but there’s nothing wrong to hope for it.

    as far as a lot of these condescending arguments from the other side “you haven’t seen a team like us” and “Temple doesn’t recruit athletes like us” we’ve heard this all right up to 9/5.

    On 9/6, the Penn State board imploded saying they were the worst team in history and, to quote Jahad, “things of that nature” …. vile comments against their own team. Suddenly, since then, they’ve gotten it pretty much together. Hmm.

  6. Temple do not care if they win by 39 points or 2 points, so the numbers and game film are deceiving.

    • Agreed. Temple could have beaten Penn State by 30+ points if Rhule wasn’t such a nice guy and tried to run out the clock in the fourth quarter. Temple had the ball for nine minutes in the fourth quarter and ended the game taking 3 knees deep in PSU territory. 34-12 fourth-quarter lead at Cincy, they pretty much took the foot off the pedal as well, trading points and yards for time off the clock.

      • Mike, please don’t use Cincy as an example. That was an embarrassment the way we went to the “prevent” defense and almost lost the game. I agree with John, the only thing the prevent defense prevents is winning. We should remember the Cincy game as a W and forget all about it otherwise.

  7. Love the fire! Anything can happen but I don’t see Temple being able to capitalize on ND’s only real weakness, which is occasional defensive confusion in the passing game leading to long scoring plays.

    Given that ND will score well over 14.6 pts, and they will, Temple really needs to be able to score points. If you truly think Temple holds ND anywhere close to 14 I’ll need some convincing 🙂

    Finally, thank you for beating Penn State! The way that program slithered out of the consequences of crimes against the innocent is sickening.

    • Thanks, Squibbster.

    • The only thing that has prevent ND from scoring more than 30 points each game was a monsoon at Clemson.. That and four turnovers kept it down. Unless there is a monsoon forecast for tomorrow, look for ND to score 35 or more.. So any Temple supporters, buckle up because you will see an offense and defense that will be the deciding factors.

      • Incredibly similar to the sentiments of the Ole Miss fans the night before their game against Memphis and they didn’t have to face the nation’s No. 5 scoring defense.

      • According to the NCAA’s official stats Temple is actually 8th in Scoring Defense.. ND faced Clemson, which is ranked 7th with 14.3 ppg, and ND actually moved the ball well against Clemson.

        ND was -3 in turnovers in that game most in the red zone, and there were many uncharacteristic dropped passes.

        If ND can minimize mistakes and turnovers, there is no reason why it wouldn’t score on Temple.. and score a lot.

      • And if we want to keep going on about scoring defense.. BC, which ranks 3rd in scoring defense with 11.8 ppg got pasted by Clemson for 34 points..

        Clemson scored 24 on ND.. 14 of those on the first few minutes of the first quarter (man does ND start slow). So ND’s defense is better than the 3rd ranked defense in the nation?

  8. ND is 15-0 on Halloween.. so bad sign for Temple.

    All these articles are in good fun (most of these “signs” are kind of bad), but they make the game more exciting!

  9. Cosmic Quotient: Bounce TV is playing Rocky. Yo Adrian…

  10. Wow all of these cyo notre dame Harvey’s ( that’s someone who roots for nd because he went to Catholic school ). Three schools I despise because of their delusional fan base, Notre shame, ped state and vile-nova. They are cults not colleges. Please nd idiots go back to your creepy holes.

    • JT – you probably don’t know anyone from ND. But whatever, bring on the hate. It is simply jealousy.

      • What Catholic high school did you graduate from? Did the nuns teach you to become a cultist at a young age? We can get you deprogramed, that’s how you leave a cult. Probably went to a Catholic college with no football program so you were told to root for Notre shame.

    • Wow JT, take a breath dude… it’s not the end of the world… It’s a football game between two schools.. So much Angst.. You know what that is right>

  11. You guys were right and we were wrong. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. Congrats to Temple, you deserved to win. Hope Rhule is available when Kelly leaves.

  12. Yup, credit Temple’s defense. We put up good yards, but I thought Temple’s best chance for an upset would come from turnovers and it certainly looked like the two Notre Dame had in the red zone would be the deciding factor. Rhule was gutsy and Temple called a great game. The Owls were definitely playing inspired football, and I hope all their players walked off the field with their heads held high because they had a very good chance to win the game. Good luck the rest of the way.

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