Penn St. Nittany Lions (1-1) at Temple Owls (2-0)
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. Lincoln FInancial Field, PA
The Line: Temple +7 (VegasInsider.com)
TV: ESPN. Dave LaMont (play by play), Ray Bentley (analyst)
Weather: 70 degrees and always sunny.
Hate Week? Hate Week.
"Real Miami". Always gets a smile out of me. They are Miami University.
A Pat On The Back. In the late 80's / early 90's world of professional wrestling, there was a guy named Barry Horowitz. He was known in that industry as a "jobber", a man who pre-determined to lose. The Washington Generals of wrestling, if you will. Horowitz lost. And lost. And sure, he'd get off a few offensive moves during each match (not this one) and inevitably gloat to the crowd with premature hubris. Horowitz's go-to move was patting himself on the back after momentarily taking his opponent down, and it was just enough to make the crowd think he had a sliver of a chance before getting crushed by his obviously superior competitor.
Well, labored metaphor consumer, that's been Temple for a very long time. Sure, they usually make it interesting for a quarter or two, but inevitably shoot themselves in the foot with a botched fake field goal, poorly-timed turnover, or catching a drop kick in the face while patting themselves on the back.
Last year, it was a different story in Beaver Stadium, with Future Penn State Head Coach Al Golden desperately clutching a 13-12 lead late in the third quarter, strapped with a wild, ineffective quarterback and a backup running back. It was the closest Temple has been to a victory over Penn State since 1985, but they were jobbers once more.
Trendspotting. Temple fans see their program as ascending -- and it is. You may have noticed their confidence this week. Bear in mind that they played two abominable teams to start the season. Villanova is in the midst of a massive rebuilding process, and Akron may be one of the three or four worst FBS teams in the nation. That said, Temple did what good teams do against awful competition: make them look like Barry Horowitz.
Do Not Pass Go. Rob Bolden gets the start again, we're quite sure. What will he do with it? If he drives Penn State for two opening touchdowns, does Matt McGloin still come in? If he throws a pick-six on his first throw, does Matt McGloin come in? And can we finally get Shane McGregor involved in this hot mess? WE DEMAND THIS, JAY.
But For Reals. I watched enough of Temple-Akron (it's on ESPN3.com if you're lonely and sad) to know that they have athletes who can make this interesting. Laugh if you must at the idea of Bernard Pierce getting 200 yards -- 50 in the first half will be enough to keep things tight. Joe Jones returned two kickoffs for a total of 93 yards and caught a long touchdown pass against Akron. Pierce is one of the best running backs you'll see this season. Matt Brown is averaging 19.3 yards on three punt returns. If Temple can manage to limit turnovers (i.e., keep Devon Still from eating quarterback Mike Gerardi), they have enough talent to hang around for a while.
You, Sir, Are Allowed To Make All The Tackles You Want. Take a minute to read the story of Temple defensive end Morkeith Brown, as told by Frank Bodani in the York Daily Record. Brown is an Afghanistan war veteran, a Harrisburg native, a father, and a law student. Quite the story. He'll line up on the opposite side of Temple's very talented defensive end, Adrian Robinson.
What To Hope For. Clarity. And a win. A solid win would be just fine. But while we're here, how about no dropped passes and a few turnovers created by the defense?
And...If They Lose? Then we'll all meet back here Saturday night and frantically ponder the future of our collective existence for the next two weeks. No biggie.
Prediction In GIF Form?
Joe Paterno used the term "running scared" to describe what his team should be doing this week. That's a fine sandbagging press conference statement for the coach of a confident, winning team to make. It's less inspirational to me, basement-dwelling Blogistani, to hear a coach say that his team should be afraid of Temple a few days after having their confidence shattered. However, this is not the frame in which the axe catches up with our hero. Penn State's defense should control this game. They had better. Temple is ready. Hell, they've even convinced Lincoln Financial Field to paint the endzones cherry and white.
Penn State 27, Temple 14.