0 ND wins against ranked teams on the road this season
1 ND wins against ranked teams this season
6 Turnovers forced by Temple more than ND
7 ND’s rank among all FBS schools in total offense
9 Temple’s rank among all FBS schools in total defense
11 Sacks the Owls have registered more than the Irish
14 Points the Owls have outscored their opposition more than ND
18 Receptions for both feature RBs, ND’s C.J. Prosise and Temple’s Jahad Thomas
84 All-purpose yards Thomas has posted more than Prosise
100 Yards that Prosise has rushed for more than Thomas
ND'S MAIN MAN
Senior RB C.J. Prosise has been a revelation this season for the Fighting Irish, so much so that he is on pace to set a school single-season record for rushing yardage.
Tyler Matakevich (8, in white) and his teammates learned they could hang with Notre Dame two years ago in South Bend, Ind. The senior LB leads all tacklers playing in Saturday night's No. 9 Irish vs. No. 22 Temple affair at Lincoln Financial Field with 65 stops this season. He also has the most interceptions with four.
Oh, they CAN. There is no doubt about that.
Not from this vantage point, which has had college football in prime focus for four decades, eyeing the ups and downs of the best and worst programs all across the country, the evolution of some and the demolition of others, and witnessing the most overrated and underrated and every-other-rated in between of those who have played and coached the sport at this level.
So, it is with complete confidence and insight that this statement is made:
Yeah … oh, hell yeah, the Temple Owls CAN hang with Notre Dame this Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Whether they could or not never should have been the question, though. That’s just more pandering to the uninformed masses stuck in beliefs and prejudices that refuse to change even when reality does.
No, CAN is one thing. WILL is another, and that is the legit query that always should have been posed all along … will the 21st-ranked Owls hang with the No. 9 Fighting Irish?
Considering the stage, a completely new one for Matt Rhule, his team and, really, the entire Temple football family, it has merit. The Owls may be overwhelmed by it all: national TV, ESPN GameDay, actual meaningful coverage by Philly media, sold-out crowd in prime time.
That is certainly possible.
But this blinders-wearing, Cro-Magnon thinking born out of sheer laziness and lack of knowledge that Temple, talent wise, has no business being on the same field as the Irish is an insult to everyone, including the Irish.
You think they wouldn’t relish – and deserve to relish – a victory on the road against a ranked opponent possessing two of the best players in the country in Owls running back Jahad Thomas and linebacker Tyler Matakevich? Think again, and while you're at it, get a flippin’ clue.
Beating Temple is no given, pre-ordained, menial task for ND. Oh, it may win. It may even roll to victory. But that isn’t set in stone, nor should it be.
Having started the season 7-0 and toppled the likes of Penn State, Cincinnati and East Carolina, Temple has proven it is no pushover – whether its naysayers chose to admit, or accept, that or not. All of the aforementioned are quality programs, and all marked quality wins for the Owls.
The way they’ve won several times now has been nothing short of miraculous. High drama at its nail-biting best. Granted, you could argue that they’ve struggled against some inferior opponents, but you can’t turn around and then say other teams are good because they find ways to win, either.
Oh, there is no debating that ND has faced a tougher schedule than Temple. The Irish have beaten the heavy-hitting likes of Georgia Tech and Southern Cal, both of whom were ranked high earlier this season, but no longer find themselves in a national poll. Frankly, while the Irish lost by two at then-No. 12 Clemson, they were the better team for the far greater part of the game.
Still, it seems the vast majority of the doubters and detractors and, worst of all, Temple “supporters” too chicken to speak up for their team were saying spewing the same “can’t win” bile heading into the Penn State game, too.
Tried to warn ya back then. Throw out the recruiting grades and go by what you actually see in players, how they have evolved and now perform, before making the brain-dead blanket statement that Temple just can’t compete, or, it’s more PC version, that, gee, you hope the Owls can.
The reality is that, yes, Notre Dame comes in with the team that, thus far, even with a loss, has looked better through the season’s first eight weeks. Statistically, it is better in most areas. Heck, even its first-year starter at RB, C.J. Prosise, has better numbers (129 carries, 922 yards, 7.1 ypc, 11 TDs) than Temple’s Thomas (165, 822, 5.0, 12).
But the Owls do have something special with their defense up to this point, somehow working an odd sort of innate submission hold on opposing offenses that has them thinking things will work out even as Temple’s Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis, Sean Chandler and Co. slowly syphon off the oxygen and ultimately put them to sleep.
It’s been amazing to watch. The Owls struggle, struggle, struggle on offense and you’re thinking that they are dead to rites … only to stop and realize that, umm, hey, the other team ain’t getting anywhere with the ball. Or, if it has, it didn’t get far, and it ain’t going no farther.
So, spare us the pre-moral victory speeches, or the prepare-for-disaster proclamations. Temple is far beyond that now.
Sorry if you missed the memo.
The Owls certainly CAN hang with the Irish, as a far lesser Owls team proved as recently as two years ago in South Bend, Ind. The question is WILL they … and that’ll be determined Saturday night.