But the Owls fumbled away that opportunity.
"I wouldn't say it like that," said coach Steve Addazio. "It was a great opportunity for us. We just didn't make enough plays. That's kind of where we are right now.
"We left some really good plays on the field. I mean, they were there to be had."
Offensively, those plays ended with incomplete passes.
Temple quarterback Chris Coyer completed 13 of 26 passes for 124 yards and touchdown, while being sacked three times. Four of the junior's pass attempts were dropped. However, he had four errant throws. Two of them appeared to be touchdowns.
Early in the second quarter, the Owls had a second-and-4 from the Nittany Lions' 7-yard line. Coyer overthrew a wide-open Cody Booth on a crossing route in the end zone.
"There was no one within 15 yards of that guy," Addazio said.
On the ensuing play, Coyer was sacked for an 8-yard loss. The Owls had to settle for a Brandon McManus 33-yard field goal to close the gap to 7-3.
The other would-be touchdown pass came on a third-and-20 play from the Penn State 25. This time, Coyer overthrew Jalen Fitzpatrick, who was streaking toward the end zone. McManus made a 42-yarder on the ensuing play, closing the gap to 21-6 with 1:37 left in the third quarter.
It would have been a completely different ballgame had Coyer connected on those pass plays.
"Yeah, we definitely had some struggles," Coyer said. "I need to throw it better. They need to catch it better. That's all it is to it."
Defensively, the Owls were picked apart by Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin.
The fifth-year senior completed 24 of 36 passes for 318 yards and touchdown. He also scored on run from 1 and 2 yards out.
While those runs were impressive, he picked apart the Owls defense by completing 11 passes for 12 yards or more.
His longest completion was a 41-yard touchdown strike to Allen Robinson on a fourth-and-5 play from the Owls 41-yard line.
"We are just not making the plays that are available to be made," Owls cornerback Zamel Johnson said. "We prepared hard. So it's not like we don't know what's coming. We just got to make the plays that's presented to us."
Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq.