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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 8, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Maryland 1-0, Temple 1-0. Away Record: Maryland 0-0, Temple 0-0. Neutral Record: Maryland 0-0, Temple 0-0. Conference Record: Maryland 0-0, Temple 0-0. Series Record: Maryland leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: While the rest of the FBS teams in the Keystone State took big losses, Temple quietly posted a win. Now the Owls will looks to keep the momentum going, as they battle the Maryland Terrapins Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
In a weekend where Penn State and Pittsburgh both took difficult losses, Temple had no such problem, posting a 41-10 win over Villanova in the annual Mayor's Cup game. The win does need to be taken with some perspective as Villanova is a team from the FCS and certainly not at the level of competition that the Owls will see week-in and week-out now that they are a member of the Big East. Still the win was the team's fifth consecutive dating back to last season and puts Temple at 2-0 in season-openers under head coach Steve Addazio.
Maryland is also coming off a win against an FCS opponent although one not nearly so dominant. The Terrapins just edged out William & Mary 7-6 on a late touchdown. Maryland is coming off a 2-10 season in which it defeated only one FBS program. Last year the Terps also posted a win against an FCS school with a 28-3 trouncing of Towson.
Before last season this was an entirely one-sided affair with Maryland winning the first six contests between these squads. After last season's 38-7 beating by Temple at Byrd Stadium the tides may be changing in what could be a solid Mid-Atlantic rivalry. In last season's matchup, departed Temple running back Bernard Pierce set a conference (Temple was still a member of the Mid-American Conference) and school-record with five rushing touchdowns.
Offense was hard to find in Maryland's opening win against William & Mary. If it weren't for Justus Pickett's six-yard score early in the fourth quarter, the season would have started on a much more sour note for the Terps. In the game Maryland managed just 236 total yards, while recording 13 first downs. Part of the issue was that Maryland squandered scoring chances with only one successful outcome in three red zone trips.
Perry Hills got the start at quarterback for Maryland and did not play particularly well in his first start as he was intercepted three times. The true freshman's final stat line (16 for-24, 145 yards) was also less than stellar, but expected as he still must adjust. Pickett led the team in rushing in the game with 45 yards on 11 carries, making up nearly half of the team's total output (91).
The Maryland offense owes its defense a big thank you for the win. The Terps were solid all day allowing only 229 total yards and six points. The performance was even more impressive considering four different players were making their first start.
The defense clearly has bought into the new 3-4 defensive scheme instituted by defensive coordinator Brain Stewart. This is especially true of talented defensive end Joe Vellano. The Second-Team All-American and All-ACC selection led all FBS linemen with 7.8 tackles per game last season and he started 2012 well with 11 stops.
In its transformation into a a more potent team since leaving the Big East in 2004, Temple has become a team that pounds the ball on the ground on offense. Last season the Owls ranked seventh in the nation piling up 256.7 yards per game rushing. The 2012 season started with a similar tone as the Owls racked up 301 rushing yards to just 61 passing yards.
Matt Brown and Chris Coyer were the largest contributors. Brown, a senior who had been utilized in past seasons but is starting as the top option at running back for the first time this year, piled up 145 yards on 19 carries and also scored a touchdown. It was Brown's 10th career 100-yard rushing performance. Brown also got involved on special teams, recording a career-best 45-yard punt return. Overall the senior had 270 all-purpose yards.
Coyer was just 5-for-11 passing, but rushed for 86 yards and a score of his own. Boston College transfer Montel Harris was slowed by an injury and managed only 12 yards on five carries.
Temple was a perfect 4-for-4 in the red zone, although the Owls twice came away with only field goals. The team was also 6-for-13 on third down conversions, while the offensive line held up well by not allowing a sack.
Defense has also keyed Temple's rise to respectability. In the opener the defense was not dominant in terms of limiting yardage, as Villanova outgained the Owls 365-362. The Owls were instead opportunistic, while coming up with big plays at crucial times. That included a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown by Vaughn Carraway in the first quarter. Carraway was around the ball all game also recovering a fumble and recording three tackles.
Temple's defensive unit also held Villanova to a 5-for-14 conversion rate on third downs, allowed just three red zone trips and had four sacks.
Individually the defense also had standouts in Nate Smith, who recorded a team-high seven tackles and a forced fumble, and Olaniyi Adewole who had five total tackles including a sack. Place-kicker Brandon McManus was also named Big East Specialist of the Week after he became the all-time leader in career field goals (48) for Temple.
Temple cannot expect to post 31-point blowouts especially with the upgrade in conference competition, but the Owls should expect a win in this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 27, Maryland 17
09/05 10:35:35 ET