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Tomorrow Penn State wraps up their non-conference schedule when the Temple Owls come to Happy Valley to play the Nittany Lions at 3:30 PM. Before we move on to the previews, let's look at what the hypothetical standings if Penn State, Temple, and Pitt all played in the same conference.
|Thoeretical Keystone Conference Standings|
|2. Penn State||2-1|
So congratulations, Pitt. You can't even call yourself the second best team in Pennsylvania anymore. Way to show up against Miami last night. So much for those "high expectations" for 2010, little brother. I'm sure the Wannstache is frantically working the cell phone this morning to keep his recruiting class together after that debacle. I've hit my limit on one-liners for a paragraph, so let's move on.
The sad irony here is that Penn State can't even call themselves the best team in Pennsylvania at the moment, but then the Nittany Lions get a chance to settle that score on the field tomorrow, don't they? Here is how your BSD staff thinks things will go down on Saturday.
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I never thought in my life I would be worried about a Penn State–Temple football game, but I am. Temple is a much improved team this season and Penn State is still trying to get in a rhythm on offense and defense. Perhaps my biggest concern is the 8,000lb elephant that awaits Penn State next week, the Iowa Hawkeyes. Penn State can’t
afford to look past the Temple Owls like in years past. In my opinion, this is not a guaranteed victory.
UConn ran all over Temple’s defense last week so I’m hopefully Evan Royster can finally get it going this week (it seems like that comment has appeared in all of my previews so far). If Royster is unable to get it going, look for everyone’s favorite interview, Stephfon Green to make something happen. I also want to see the continued maturation of Robert Bolden. He can’t afford to turn the ball over 3 times against Temple like he did against Kent State and expect to win. I think he will have his best game of the year throwing for almost 300 yards.
Defensively, Penn State needs to continue to work on fundamental tackling, which is odd for a Tom Bradley defense. Chris Colasanti appears to be a step slow and doesn’t have nearly the same nose for the ball like Sean Lee, Dan Connor, or Paul Posluszny did (not many people do). The secondary got on the board last week with a pair of interceptions, but I’m looking for the defensive line to get some sacks and forced fumbles on Temple’s overmatched QB, Chester Stewart. Look for Nathan Stupar and Devon Still to have breakout games. Temple
has a fairly good punt return unit. If Penn State can contain that, they will be able to control the field position, a favorite of JoePa.
Prediction: Penn State 28, Temple 21
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A lot of people have been worried about Temple this week. I'm not. If Penn State was going to find itself in a trap game, it would have been last week against the stout run defense of Kent State. The Owls might be the best team in the MAC, but they simply don't have the strengths to take advantage of Penn State's weaknesses, namely the running game on offense and the middle of the secondary on defense.
Penn State will take care of business tomorrow. Temple running back Bernard Pierce could present some challenges, but this is a good opportunity for the Lions to prove their tackling has progressed since the Trent Richardson debacle at Alabama two weeks ago. Offensively, this is Penn State's last chance to show it can move the ball on the ground against a Temple squad that's not particularly strong in stopping the run.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Temple 3
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Temple on paper is a team Penn State should worry about, but they have too many flaws to really have a chance to pick up the W. This game sets up well for Penn State, Temple has struggled to stop the run, and Penn State needs to get it going on the ground. Temple also has given up 45,000.5 sacks this year, while Penn State has collected very few. The game might be somewhat close in regards to final score, but Penn State shouldn't have any issues getting it done. They'll have a chance to get better in the areas they need to, but not without some effort. 3-1 going to Iowa sounds great.
Prediction: Penn State 31 Temple 14
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Somebody wrote into Esquire's Answer Fella this month inquiring as to how long a human could reasonably expect to elude an attacking bear, if given a big enough tree to dodge behind. It was humorously explained that bears are so much faster than humans and that no tree is big enough. Temple has grown impressively under Al Golden the past four years, and they should provide better competition and fewer mistakes than Kent State. But our young talent also continues to improve, as do our coaches, and there's been enough tape in three games to highlight our own errors and to allow plenty opportunity to reduce our own mistakes, that we will again be too much for the upstart Owls. Like the lesser-equipped human, I expect them to quickly realize they cannot elude us and decide that their best chance is to attempt to stand up to us. But, in the end, their best strategy may be to just play dead.
Prediction: Penn State 31 Temple 10
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This is the last week of nonconference play, so it's Penn State's last chance to work the kinks out of the offense. The offensive line has to get it together and open up holes for Evan Royster, Stephfon Green, Silas Redd, or whoever lines up in the backfield. Robert Bolden has to show more maturity in protecting the ball. Just take the sack or throw it away, son. No need to give a team like this easy points.
Ultimately, Temple just doesn't have the horses to run with Penn State. They will probably keep it close and make Penn State work for their yards, but they don't have the talent or the depth to keep it going all day. Penn State will win this one easily, but I expect them to turn the ball over a few times and have a breakdown or two on defense, who still covers crossing routes like they've never seen them before. I hope we have a nice warm fuzzy feeling going into the Iowa game, but I think we're going to come out of this one still asking the same questions about Royster, Bolden, and the defense.
Prediction: Penn State 24, Temple 13
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Penn State opened as 16.5 or 17 point favorites in the Vegas lines (depending on where you looked), but by yesterday, the line had moved all the way down to 13 in some places. Anytime a line moves that much--this was the biggest move of any college line this weekend--it means the betting public is putting all of their money on one side, in this case, on Temple with the points. There's good reason to like Temple this weekend. Al Golden has said that Temple has "experience. ... Certainly, we have great leadership, and we're a tough team. We're finding ways to win. We're resilient, relentless." One could argue that we haven't seen any of those traits in this Penn State team. Given that, I think we'd actually benefit from a little bit of a scare from the Owls on Saturday where the Nittany Lions have to dig deep and find out what they're made of to win, a la Northwestern in 2005. But I'm not seeing it.
In the last 24 hours or so, the betting line has bounced back a little and seems to have settled around 14, as some of the wise guys realize that there's a little too much love for a Temple team that hasn't played on the road yet. I'm laying the points on Saturday.
Prediction: Penn State 23, Temple 6