Temple (1-1) at Penn State (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beaver Stadium (106,572) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: ABC. Home Record: Temple 1-1, PSU 1-1. Away Record: Temple 0-0, PSU 0-1. Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, PSU 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 0-0, PSU 0-0. Series Record: Penn State leads, 30-3-1.
GAME NOTES: After notching their first win under first-year head coach Bill O'Brien a week ago, the Penn State Nittany Lions will close out the non- conference portion of their schedule against instate rival Temple on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
This marks the seventh consecutive season in which these teams will meet. Penn State leads the all-time series 30-3-1, but that includes seven Nittany Lion victories that were vacated in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal. PSU has won 36 consecutive meetings with the Owls, spanning 71 years.
Temple has been idle since a 36-27 setback to Maryland on Sept. 8. Although they won't be traveling very far, this marks the Owls' first road contest of the season. With two weeks to prepare for this bout, head coach Steve Addazio could have a trick or two up his sleeve for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State is coming off a much needed 34-7 triumph over Navy this past weekend. Prior to that victory, the Nittany Lions had let two fourth-quarter leads slip away against Virginia and Ohio University. Following this weekend's tilt, they'll open Big Ten play at Illinois next Saturday.
The Owls are hopeful that last week's bye will allow senior running back Montel Harris to return to action from a hamstring injury. Harris, the all- time leading rusher at Boston College before transferring to Temple this fall, sat out the Maryland game. Senior Matt Brown was bottled up by the Terrapins, finishing with only 33 yards on 10 carries. He also left the game with an ankle injury, although he later returned. When both are healthy, they figure to form what could be the top rushing tandem in the Big East, as Brown notched 916 yards and six TDs last year (5.9 ypc) while splitting time with Bernard Pierce. For the most part, the Owls use the passing game merely to keep defenses honest as they rank 118th nationally in passing offense (119.5 ypg).
Temple enters the weekend ranked No. 6 in the nation in sacks (4.0) and 22nd in pass defense (171.5). The Owls also lead the Big East with a +1.50 turnover margin, although a pair of first-half turnovers by the offense opened the door for Maryland to grab a 26-3 halftime lead two weeks ago. It was the defense that set the tone for a second-half rally as redshirt freshman linebacker Nate Smith forced a fumble on the first play of the second half, which true freshman defensive back Tavon Young recovered to set up an Owls score. Smith posted a team-high 10.5 tackles in that game and he paces the squad with 18 stops, including 17 solo. He has also forced three fumbles.
Penn State scored on each of its first three possessions against Navy, as the offense executed to near perfection after a couple of sluggish losses. Sophomore wideout Allen Robinson has added a dynamic element to the Nittany Lions' offense. He recorded career-highs with 136 receiving yards and three touchdowns against Navy. After three games, he ranks among the national leaders in catches (8.0 per game), yards (107.3) and touchdowns (4). Senior quarterback Matt McGloin tied his career high with four TD passes in last week's victory, as he completed 13-of-21 passes for 231 yards and was not intercepted for the second consecutive game. Still, as the season progresses the Nittany Lions will need to strike a better run-pass balance. Curtis Dukes leads the team in rushing, with only 77 yards on 21 carries (3.7 ypc).
While Penn State's offense got off to a quick start last week, the defense was able to keep Navy off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. The unit forced four turnovers (three fumbles) for the second straight game, and the Nittany Lions currently lead the Big Ten with a +1.67 turnover margin. Sophomore linebacker Mike Hull scored on a 74-yard fumble recovery return early in the fourth quarter, while senior linebacker Michael Mauti notched a game-high 12 tackles to earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. Mauti has registered a team-best 33 tackles to go along with a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Defensive end Deion Barnes forced a fumble for the second straight week and recorded his third sack in the past two games, earning Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week recognition.
Although Penn State has dominated this series, the teams are rather evenly matched this time around. The key for Penn State will be stopping Temple's ground game, while the Owls focus on containing Robinson in the passing game. Give a slight edge to PSU playing at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 31, Temple 27
09/19 11:04:28 ET