So, this is supposed to be the start of an easy three game stretch, in which the Nittany Lions get to take a rest before plunging into the heart of the Big Ten schedule. After all, Temple (2-0) has always been a pushover for Penn State (1-1). In this case, “always” means since 1941. That’s how long it has been since Temple has won one.
What, me worry? The only thing is that this could possibly be the best Temple team the Lions have faced since 1941. Oh sure, they’ve beaten only a FCS school (Villanova) and the Akron Zips so far, but what has Penn State done? Temple scored 83 points and gave up only 10 in its first two winning efforts. Penn State’s numbers are nothing like that through two games, but you can’t compare Akron and Alabama.
The centerpiece of Temple’s offense is running back Bernard Pierce, who currently ranks sixth nationally in yards gained and is tied for second in scoring. Last year he ran for 42 yards on 10 carries against PSU. He was splitting running duties with Matt Brown, who had 48 net yards on 12 carries. This year, Pierce, a junior, gobbled up 147 and 150 net yards and three touchdowns in his first two games. Penn State’s middle-of-the-pack rushing defense will have trouble with Pierce.
Expect some SEC-type razzle-dazzle from Steve Addazio, Temple’s new head coach who used to be a Gator. He accepted the job when Al Golden departed for the prestigious head coaching job at the University of Miami after last season. Addazio doesn’t want to wait around to build a program; he thinks he has enough talent to work with to win right now. He should be able to build on Golden’s prior successes.
You all know the keys to this game from Penn State’s perspective. We’re apparently stuck with Paterno’s ridiculous two-headed quarterback, so that is, of course, a liability. Continuity and rhythm are lost in that sorry-ass scheme. I don’t know what Paterno expects to prove, but I digress. Other than the quarterback debacle, Penn State looks better on paper and should dominate. However, there are a couple of catches here, speaking of which, PSU receivers can’t catch. Drive stopping drops will hurt. There are some significant intangibles, such as how bummed and apathetic will the Lions be after last week’s beat down. It is this Turkey’s hope that they will be looking for revenge, but egos being fragile, you never know what you’re going to get. They’ll be playing in front of 40,000 or so instead of 110,000 and they’ll have the dreaded noon start. A positive intangible is that the game is being played in Philadelphia, which is home for Temple, but there’ll be a largely Penn State crowd cheering for the Lions.
Stephfon Green does not appear on the depth chart. Anthony Fera does, as backup kicker and punter. Curtis Drake is listed, having come back from his injury, but he is likely not completely recovered and will not play, says Paterno.
The weather should be a picture perfect fall day, with a high of 71.
And now, we’ll cap this off with the Official Turkey Poop Prediction, which is as good as its signature substance. I’ll take all the credit I can get for successfully predicting the first two games, and then I’ll admit that this one is too superladen with intangibles to be anything but inscrutable to me. So, I’ll take a shot without a great deal of confidence. Nittany Lions favored by seven, with an over/under of 46. This will be closer than the spread indicates. I’m going to say that Penn State pulls itself out of a hole late and wins this one 27-20. Take the over, but just barely.