Temple long overdue for win over Penn State

Posted: September 20, 2012

WOULD ANYONE dare suggest it's borderline inevitable?

At some point, Temple should beat Penn State. It might even happen this Saturday, when the Owls (1-1) head to central Pennsylvania. If not, then maybe in 2014, when the Nittany Lions (1-2) are in South Philly again. Or 2016, the next (and at least for now last) time the Owls are scheduled to invade Happy Valley.

That's nothing more than a logical projection. The Nits will be dealing with those NCAA sanctions and the Owls figure to keep moving forward, now that they're part of whatever the new Big East becomes.

Or it could just come down to the law of averages, when one team hasn't beaten another since 2 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, a stretch of 37 games that does include a tie in 1950. There have been close ones along the way, for sure. But even in 1979, when Temple went 10-2 and claimed its only bowl win before last December's victory in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, it lost by 15 up there. And from 1988-2009, there were mostly way too many 66-14s (1995) and 52-10s (1997).

There's a reason only one camp probably treats it as a true rivalry. Nonetheless . . .

In 2010, Temple led for 43 minutes in State College. And a year ago at the Linc, Penn State needed a late touchdown to keep the streak going. So . . .

"A bunch of us on this team have been hoping to get a win against them," said senior kicker Brandon McManus, who just made the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. "We're excited to have [another] opportunity. "I think every year from now on, Temple will be able to compete and have a chance to win."

For Temple Nation, Penn State has always represented the great white whale. It's understandable. Finally, the lengthy drought could be nearing an end. But it would no doubt mean more if it ended against a team that, despite all the late personnel losses, was at least still somewhat intact. As opposed to when the Nits are down to 65 scholarship bodies.

"For the fans, especially the ones who've been here for a very long time, that might be," said junior QB Chris Coyer, who's only played against the Nits on special teams. "For us, it would get us to 2-1. It would be a good win. For me personally, it's very important. It's what I came here to do.

"You can tell they're a team with a chip on their shoulder, with all they've been through. It's a team we want to beat . . . There's no such thing as a game that's too big. It's our one chance this year we'll have to play in a stadium in front of 100,000-plus people. That's really an experience you can look back on."

Especially if it's a pleasant bus ride home.

"I'm glad it's their Super Bowl," said first-year PSU coach Bill O'Brien. "But this is a very big game for us, like every game this year. We have only 12."

McManus said a Temple win wouldn't necessarily be a "program booster or anything." Ultimately, conference games will provide a more definitive growth chart. But 7 decades is still, well, an eternity.

"Anytime you play an in-state game, it's a great honor," McManus said. "There are so many Penn State fans in Philadelphia, so we're trying to bring that Temple vibe. Two years ago, when we were winning at halftime, that whole place was silent. It's the first time I'd ever heard that."

"This is 2012," said Temple coach Steve Addazio. "Really, last year is irrelevant to me. It's a different game, with different people.

"Of course, there's a tremendous excitement level to playing Penn State, as a Division I BCS football team in Pennsylvania. These regional deals, they're kind of cool. It's not bigger than life. But it absolutely has those kind of dynamics."

And then some. Particularly from one side of the perspective.

Contact Mike Kern at kernm@phillynews.com


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