Underdog Temple seeks rare win against Penn State

Temple fans after another loss to Penn State last season. The Owls last beat the Lions in 1941.
Temple fans after another loss to Penn State last season. The Owls last beat the Lions in 1941. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 18, 2012

Temple's 2011 season was filled with achievements that helped transform the program from a laughingstock to a bowl game winner.

What it did not include was a victory over Penn State.

The Owls have not defeated the Nittany Lions since Oct. 18, 1941. Temple's record against Pennsylvania's most recognized program is 3-37-1. That provides motivation for the Owls heading into Saturday's game at Beaver Stadium. So does the fact that many of the Owls were not recruited by the Lions.

"I think what happens is obviously our roster is filled with a majority of Pennsylvania players, and Penn State was Penn State," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "So every guy on our roster didn't get recruited by Penn State. So they come in here, and you know, [playing Penn State] is a measuring stick."

On paper, one would assume this is Temple's best opportunity to beat Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost 13 players - including four starters - since the program was hit with NCAA sanctions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Penn State (1-2) opened the season with disheartening losses to Ohio and Virginia before defeating a struggling Navy squad on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are a nine-point favorite over the Owls (1-1).

"We are always the underdogs [to Penn State] and are the underdog," Addazio said. "It's a great opportunity for us to get in there and do the best we can against a great football team, take our shots and play real hard."

The coach acknowledged this is a rivalry game in the eyes of Temple. The Owls players love it. So do Temple fans.

But the Owls must show an improved passing game to have any chance to win. They rank 118th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing offense with 119.50 yards per game.

Some might argue that those numbers are misleading considering that Temple has run the ball 74.7 percent of the time.

But Owls quarterback Chris Coyer has completed just 12 of 29 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. The junior's completion percentage [41.4] ranks last among the Big East's starting quarterbacks. Eight of his passes were dropped against Maryland on Sept. 8.

Perhaps that's why Addazio won't allow himself to think about what a rare victory over Penn State would do for his program.

"How many years [since beating Penn State], it doesn't mean anything to me," he said. "Because when we go into the stadium, each guy is going to have to buckle his chin strap.

"It's going to be one guy against one guy and 11 against 11. That's what it is."

Steve Addazio's take on Penn State Thursday on "Owls Insider". philly.com/owlsinsider2012

 Blog: Temple falls

to seventh in Keith Pompey's weekly

Big East power rankings. philly.com/owlsinq

Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or kpompey@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq


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