Football Bowl Subdivision
       === Temple faces uphill climb in clash with No. 14 Notre Dame ===
 South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Brian Kelly will try to become one of the
 youngest head coaches in college football history to register his 200th win as
 he leads the 14th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the visiting Temple
 Owls in the 2013 season opener for both teams.
 Kelly, who ranks fourth among active head coaches at the Football Bowl
 Subdivision in terms of total wins (199-68-2), saw his Irish emerge from
 almost nowhere last season in order to compete for the national championship.
 A year after finishing 8-5 and losing to Florida State in the postseason,
 Notre Dame responded by running the table during the 2012 regular season,
 piling up 12 straight wins.
 There were more than a few close calls a season ago however, the team needing
 overtime to beat Stanford (20-13) and then requiring three additional OTs to
 take down Pittsburgh (29-26), but still Notre Dame was perfect when postseason
 bids were handed out.
 Unfortunately, the Irish were saddled with having to deal with Alabama in the
 BCS title tilt and the Crimson Tide took no pity on their opponent as they
 raced to a lopsided 42-14 victory, their third championship in the last four
 While Notre Dame has a familiar face in coach Kelly roaming the sidelines, the
 same cannot be said for Temple for this first-ever meeting between the two
 A year ago Steve Addazio was in his second season with the Owls and had the
 team off to a 3-2 start while operating in the Big East Conference, but after
 slipping by UConn in the middle of October, Temple went into a tailspin. The
 program dropped four straight decisions before crushing Army (63-32). With a
 38-20 setback to Syracuse to close out the campaign, the Owls finished just
 4-7 overall, 2-5 in conference.
 Barely two weeks after losing to the Orange, Addazio resigned to take the head
 coaching job at Boston College, opening the door for the hiring of Matt Rhule
 as the 26th head coach in school history.
 "When the opportunity came to return and serve the Temple student-athletes and
 the greater University community as a whole; I knew it was right," Rhule said
 after being brought back from a position in the NFL. "I am extremely grateful
 for the opportunity and look forward to continuing the program's upward
 momentum as a member of the Big East Conference."
 Just to be clear, Temple now operates in the newly-formed American Athletic
 Conference which consists primarily of programs from the Big East and
 Conference USA.
 The odds are heavily stacked against the Owls in this meeting when you
 consider the team has clashed with a nationally-ranked program a total of 77
 times since 1974 and won only twice against 14th-ranked Virginia Tech (28-24)
 in 1998, and 16th-ranked Pittsburgh (24-21) 11 years earlier.
 Among the man changes taking place with the Temple program, one of the most
 pronounced is the move to a new starting quarterback in Connor Reilly. Pushed
 by P.J. Walker and Clinton Granger for the starting job throughout camp,
 Reilly takes over despite having no game experience with the Owls.
 Hoping to find open space for Reilly to throw to, Ryan Alderman, Jalen
 Fitzpatrick, and John Christopher bring spirited effort to the wideout
 positions, despite being slight in size.
 "We take pride in being smaller and underrated, so we play hard and that's why
 I think our team respects us," Fitzpatrick states.
 Kenny Harper figures to carry much of the load at running back following the
 departure of key performers in the role, but also look for Jamie Gilmore and
 Zaire Williams to possibly make an impact.
 On the defensive side of the ball, the Owls need to make significant strides
 from last season when they were 100th in the country in stopping the run
 (199.8 ypg) and 115th in pass efficiency defense (154.39). Unfortunately,
 there is youth and inexperience all over the depth chart, so fans need to be
 patient during this time of growth.
 Perhaps one positive for the Temple defense is that they won't have to go up
 against Everett Golson at quarterback after he was dismissed from the team.
 Instead, the Fighting Irish will be plugging in senior Tommy Rees at the
 position. Rees isn't completely new to the situation however, already with a
 record of 14-4 as a starter and one of the most accurate passers in the
 history of Notre Dame football.
 T.J. Jones, a candidate for postseason recognition, caught 50 passes for 649
 yards and four TDs a year ago, while DaVaris Daniels made a name for himself
 in the BCS title game with six catches for 115 yards.
 George Atkinson III settles in as the primary ball carrier for the Irish,
 having started three games in 2012 and placing third on the unit with 361
 rushing yards. More importantly, Atkinson averaged better than seven yards per
 While the offense deals with the change at quarterback, the defense for the
 Fighting Irish tries to move beyond linebacker Manti Te'o who, before heading
 to the NFL, captured a record seven individual major awards -- the Walter
 Camp, Maxwell, Lombardi, Butkus, Nagurski, Bednarik and Lott trophies.
 Because of Te'o and his teammates, Notre Dame finished seventh in the country
 in total defense last year, allowing just 305.5 ypg, and second in scoring
 defense with a mere 12.8 ppg. Five times the program held an opponent to seven
 points or less in 2012, with much of the credit going to Te'o.
 Returning to patrol the middle of the field for the Irish are linebackers Dan
 Fox and Prince Shembo. While Te'o was taking home all of the postseason
 awards, Shembo ranked second on the squad with 10.5 tackles for loss and 7.5
 sacks, not to mention pacing the group with 12 quarterback hurries. A quick
 and lively bunch at the line of scrimmage, UND recorded 70 TFL overall and had
 almost twice as many sacks (34) as the competition (18).
 Danny Spond was supposed to be among the returning starters at linebacker,
 after posting 38 tackles a year ago, but he just recently informed the team
 that he was retiring from the game after dealing with concussions and severe
 migraines over the last two campaigns.
 "What was pretty apparent was that it was an emotional decision and it didn't
 come without a lot of thought," coach Kelly told the Chicago Tribune. "He
 spent the day speaking to a lot of specialists and his family was here. This
 was not a decision that came easy. He loves his teammates. But what's most
 important is he did what's in his best interest for the future. He's got a
 bright future."
 08/28 11:41:33 ET