McManus likes the game and says it "really jumps out to start our season." And the recent Big East drama only adds to it, he said.
"They wanted to be in the Big East, we wanted to be in the Big East," said McManus, who also punts for the Owls. "It just creates more entertainment for the game."
It's a more important game for Temple this year. That's usually the case when teams face off from different divisions. The Owls have bigger games ahead, at Penn State and in their first season in their return to the Big East. Nevertheless, a loss here would be the wrong way to start a new beginning.
It wouldn't be an embarrassment, though. Colonial Athletic Association teams regularly give BCS-conference teams a hard time. But it usually takes an upper CAA team. Correctly or not, Villanova is picked eighth in that league. The Wildcats return 20 starters from a two-win team, and we'll quickly see which of those two numbers is more important, the 20 or the two. Villanova coach Andy Talley is 2-2 against Temple in these Linc face-offs, but the Owls are the clear favorites again this time.
Forget the series, which ends this year anyway, for the near term. No matter what the Big East looks like now or in the future, the Owls are in a better place. Villanova got some concessions as part of the deal, and the Main Liners still can't be sure if the league is worth the cost of an upgrade, which works out, since the league is looking for another Western team right now, not another Philly team.
Temple coach Steve Addazio went on a mini rant at his weekly press luncheon - and he was looking for an opening to do it. The rant had a lot of logic to it. Temple's program has grown in recent years - the whole school has, Addazio pointed out - and any one game shouldn't send people thinking, "Same old Temple." The Big East will bring big benefits, but the players being recruited into the league aren't here yet, he said.
"I'm not a whiner," Addazio said. "I'm a pretty straightforward guy. But I'd like to respect what's happened, and this program is here to stay, and it's going to grow. It doesn't happen instantaneously. I'm sorry that there are scars from the past, but let's judge on where we're headed here."
When it comes to the past, present, and future, the constituency that really matters is Temple alumni. That's the group that has to get fired up. The student section has been doing its part. The folks on North Broad Street can't (and presumably don't) expect nonaffiliated fans to fill the stadium on autumn Saturdays. Football fans in this town do that already, but on Sundays.
Temple's coach sounds very realistic about this season, that the Owls have fully implemented his system this season - it was more of a "merge" with Al Golden's system last year, Addazio said. But there isn't as much depth after graduation losses that hit the offensive line and defensive secondary particularly hard.
If it comes down to a kick, McManus is ready. He has hit three game-winners in his career, and converted four field goals in that 2010 Villanova game.
He remembers his holder telling him before the 'Nova game-winner, "It's just like another kick during practice. The same football we kick every day."
Except, of course, it isn't. McManus knows the difference. There's a reason he's standing away from his huddling teammates in those moments. Everything has to be right, including his own head.
"There's only 11 of these things a year, and your whole world surrounds these 11 games," Addazio said. "It's not just another day.''
Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @Jensenoffcampus. Read his "Off Campus'' columns at www.philly.com/offcampus