We’re from Philadelphia and we fight, or something like that.
While we do not know which team will win on Saturday, fans of both Houston and Temple have confidence in their favorite players and rightly so.
Is it Saturday yet?
A lot of things make the Saturday matchup even more compelling than it being the first-ever G5 title game that results in a NY6 Bowl reward, but it starts with the unstoppable force (Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.) meeting the immovable object (Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich). In games like this, it’s often the unknown guy who makes a big play or becomes the big player. File that thought away in the memory bank.
Right now, the known is Ward and Matakevich.
Matakevich was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and, in a 27-3 win over Connecticut to clinch the AAC East title, he widened the gap between his top competition for both the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award.
After the final game of the regular season for all of the schools, Matakevich is the clear leader from all of the available empirical evidence. One of his top competitors, Penn State end Carl Nassib, has missed the last two games with an injury. Matakevich is up for the Bednark with Nassib and Shaq Lawson, while he is up for the Nagurski with both of those guys and two others. This is the complete list with updated stats:
Clemson DE Shaq Lawson: The 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior has 48 tackles in 12 games, 19.5 for losses with 8.5 sacks and no fumble recoveries and no interceptions. He is the best player on one of the best defenses in the nation, but doesn’t produce in the all-important turnover area.
Carl Nassib, Penn State (DE): The walk-on from Malvern Prep in the suburbs of Philadelphia has had a superb season for the Nittany Lions. In 10 games, Nassib has 46 tackles, 19.5 for losses, including 15.5 sacks. He also has one interception and returned it for 10 yards and forced six fumbles. He played only the first three snaps on Saturday against Michigan before being removed with an undisclosed injury.
Reggie Ragland, Alabama (LB): In 12 games, the 6-2, 252-pound Ragland has 90 tackles, 6.5 for losses with 2.5 sacks, no interceptions and two forced fumbles. He almost has no impact, though, on the opponent’s passing game as he has no interceptions this season.
Jeremy Cash, Duke (SS): The 6-2, 210-pound is projected as a strong safety on the next level, but has played both strong and free safety for the Blue Devils. This year, in 12 games, he has 100 tackles, 18 for losses with 2.5 sacks. After recording two interceptions a year ago, he has none this season.
Tyler Matakevich, Temple (LB): No one seems to be nearly as qualified for the Nagurski hardware as does the 6-1, 232-pound Matakevich, who is only the sixth player in FBS history to record fourth-straight 100-tackle seasons. He is also the only player in college football this season to lead his team in tackles in every game. He has 118 tackles, 14.5 for losses, 4.5 sacks and five interceptions.