Here at Know Your Foes we try to answer the important questions: Is Bruce Springsteen bad? (yes). Is deep dish pizza awesome? (yes). Today, we attempt to settle a debate that will likely rear its ugly head once again in the coming day - is [team] Penn State's rival?
This week's opponent, Temple, is the third school on Penn State's schedule whose fanbase has claimed a rivalry with the Nittany Lions. Like Rutgers and Maryland fans before them, those claims will be met with a swift "lol nope," both before and after the game, no matter the outcome.
Speaking of an outcome, this may be Temple's best ever chance to spring an upset in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions, as we know, are anemic on offense and if Matt Rhule's squad can manage to scrape together some points, it could be another tense one in Beaver Stadium.
This Season - Temple: 5-4 (3-3 AAC); Rivalry Talk: 1-1
Temple has had some very nice moments during their second go-round in the AAC. The Owls took down a then-ranked East Carolina in rather impressive fashion two weeks ago, holding one of the nation's top passing attacks to just 217 yards and ten points. They'll be looking to get bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011. That Temple team came close to beating PSU at Lincoln Financial Field, with the Lions needing a late Michael Zordich TD to escape with victory.
Both Rutgers and Maryland claimed a rivalry with Penn State in their inaugural B1G season, but neither have a better claim that Temple if we're judging a rivalry on head-to-head records. The Owls have three wins all-time against Penn State, which is still one more than both of the aforementioned schools can cite.
"But surely - surely - Temple is not Penn State's rival," you say. I agree! So how do we determine who actually is a rival? Here's a flowchart that should have everything covered:
Temple is basically Penn State, as you've seen from Cari's analysis. They rely on their defense to keep them in games because the offense struggles to move the ball. Quarterback P.J. Walker is slightly more efficient that Christian Hackenberg, though he isn't asked to do as much through the air as the Penn State QB. Walker has thrown 11 TDs, 10 picks and averages 187 yards per game. He's also rushed for three scores. His top target, Jalen Fitzpatrick, is a game-time decision on Saturday. With 512 receiving yards on the year, the Harrisburg-bred wideout would be a huge loss for a team that has been struggling to score in recent weeks.
Both teams rank in the bottom 25 nationally in rushing offense, though running back Kenneth Harper is coming off a his best game of the season (17 carries, 116 yards, TD). This probably does not bode well for your eyeballs.
A linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97, Rhule is no stranger to excellent defenses. So it should come as no surprise that Temple has themselves a pretty good one. What might be surprising is how stingy the Owls' pass defense has been. Junior DB Tavon Young is a playmaker in the secondary - he had two interceptions in the season opening win at Vanderbilt and returned a fumble 63 yards to open the scoring against ECU. The entire secondary is allowing just over 200 yards per game through the air, good for 29th nationally.
Defensive end Praise Martin-Oguike has earned plenty of...admiration for his play this season, in which he's recorded five and a half sacks. He was an absolute terror in the ECU win, recording 1.5 sacks, three(!) forced fumbles and a blocked kick.
Temple is pretty good at returning punts (via owlsports.com)
Last Week - 16-13 L vs Memphis
The Owls managed just 298 total yards in a close one last Friday night, losing on a game-winning field goal that gave the Tigers their sixth win of the year. Walker struggled mightily at home, completing just 16 of his 37 passes.
We've never given Temple the beatdown they've deserved since they ended Talor Battle's career, and that is some bullshit. Hop to it James.