So the Scarlet Knights should bring some folks with them down the Jersey Turnpike. Which could help turn it into the largest non-Penn State crowd to ever watch the Owls in South Philly (Villanova has drawn just over 30,000). But proximity shouldn't be the only reason to show up. A midway slice of first place is on the line. That didn't seem to make enough difference when Temple was in the MAC. But it's part of a BCS neighborhood again.
"We have a lot of Jersey guys on the roster," said Temple second-year coach Steve Addazio. "That always has extra meaning, with Rutgers right up the road. A lot of guys know a lot of guys. Some were recruited [by both], others weren't. All those things tend to bring about geographic rivals.
"There was a time when we had that. Obviously it hasn't been for awhile. We hope that can re-emerge. Right now, [our kids] understand the big picture. They have to go play a [big] football game on Saturday. They're pretty locked in on that."
After this, Rutgers has non-conference games against Kent State (5-1) and Army (1-5) before it goes to No. 21 Cincinnati (5-0, 1-0) on Nov. 17. It hosts No. 16 Louisville (6-0, 1-0) on Nov. 29.
"We're just trying to be 1-0 this weekend," said Flood, who like Addazio has an offensive-line background. The two have a relationship going back some 15 years, when Flood was an assistant at Hofstra and went to Syracuse to pick Addazio's brain for a day.
Rutgers was picked to finish third, Temple last, neither of which is any longer pertinent. The Owls are trying to win a third straight game against a team from one of the six major conferences for the first time in 22 years.
Their next two are at Pitt (2-4, 0-3) and Louisville. After that Cincy comes here. But at this point they're somewhat playing with house money.
"As a coach and a player and a program, you just go into battle every week and try to get a win," Addazio said. "I don't really look at it as being ahead [of where maybe they figured to be], or behind. You can ride the roller coaster that way. And we try not to do that.
"We're halfway through the season. There's so many twists and turns to set expectations, whether you say them out loud or to yourself. Obviously, we take very much to heart coming back into the Big East. To bring another quality northeast team into the league was critical [with Pitt and Syracuse leaving for the ACC next season]. We're showing that this is the right thing and the right fit. We understand that this is for the long haul . . .
"We want Philadelphia to come alive, coming off two victories and playing a ranked team. It's going to be a lot of fun. That's what this is all about."
It should be. Because it's a rival. And because reality says it means something besides the intangibles. How many would have ventured that even just a month ago?
Brandon McManus , who kicked the winning field goal in overtime at Connecticut, is the Big East Specialist of the Week for the third time this season and fourth time in his career.
Contact Mike Kern at firstname.lastname@example.org.