Notre Dame (6-1) vs. Temple (7-0) 8:00 pm
Last game played between these two teams was in 2013 at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were able to pick up the 28-6 victory in South Bend. Since 2013, Temple is 7-8 at home. Since 2013, Notre Dame is 9-7 on the road or on a neutral field site (including bowl games).
The Fighting Irish will have an extra week to prepare for this match-up in Philadelphia. Notre Dame is averaging 38.3 points per game and has a very balanced offensive attack. The team is rushing for 234 yards per game and is passing for 264 yards per game. Led by quarterback DeShone Kizer, the Irish will look to put pressure on a methodical Temple offense that is not built to come from behind. Kizer has been able to step up in big games on the road (Virginia and Clemson) and must be able to read coverage against a solid Owls secondary. Kizer has completed 65.4% for 1,370 yards with 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Notre Dame will need to pound the football to open up the play action passing game for Kizer and running back CJ Prosise will be counted on to have a big night. On the season, Prosise leads the team with 922 yards averaging 7.1 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns on the ground. Prosise has great speed and quickness to catch the edge of the defense which could put pressure on Temple to run sideline to sideline. Notre Dame has a speed advantage at the wide receiver position and will look to exploit the Owls secondary over the top on Saturday night. William Fuller leads the team with 32 receptions for 707 yards with 8 touchdowns and plays his best in big games. Wide receiver Chris Brown has been a solid compliment to Fuller and gives Kizer another option in the vertical passing game. Brown is second on the team with 27 receptions for 355 yards with 2 touchdowns. Notre Dame will want to start fast on the road and force Temple into a high scoring affair. The Fighting Irish will look to spread out the Owls and utilize their speed on the perimeter of the defense. Look for head coach Brian Kelly to call short to intermediate routes early on to get Kizer in a rhythm which can help open up the rushing attack for Prosise.
Defensively, Notre Dame will need to shut down the Temple rushing attack and force Temple quarterback PJ Walker to beat them over the top. The Fighting Irish are allowing 175 rushing yards per game and will be challenged by a physical offensive line in Temple. Linebacker Jaylon Smith leads the team with 56 total tackles and is the emotional leader of the unit. In order to get the victory on Saturday, Notre Dame must force third down and long situations which can make Temple one dimensional. The secondary has been average and has faced good wide receiving units throughout the season allowing 194 passing yards per game (Virginia, Clemson and USC). A cause of concern for the defense has been the ability to generate a pass rush. On the year, Notre Dame has had 11 sacks through 7 games and must be able to get pressure on Walker to force errant throws on Saturday night. Look for Notre Dame to blitz early on to dictate defensive tempo and force Temple into throwing against the Fighting Irish secondary. Notre Dame is even in turnover margin and -2 on the road this season.
The Owls are coming off a hard fought 24-14 victory over East Carolina on the road last Thursday night. Trailing 14-10 with over 4 minutes left to play quarterback PJ Walker drove the offense 85 yards for the go ahead score and lead his team to the road win. Temple is averaging 32.3 points per game and is rushing for 146 yards per game along with passing for 197 yards per game. Walker has matured this season as the team’s signal caller and has shown great leadership in running the offense. Temple’s style of offense relies on a ball control attack that wants to methodically work down the field to wear down opposing defenses. The Owls have a solid offensive line that plays with a “blue collar” attitude and needs to have success in the running game to implement their offensive scheme. Walker has completed 59.8 % of his passes for 1,314 yards with 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is a dual threat quarterback that can cause some issues on the edge of the defense with his mobility. However, running back Jahad Thomas is the X-factor for the offense. On the season, Thomas leads the team inn rushing with 822 yards averaging 4.9 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. Temple also utilizes Thomas the short to intermediate passing game as he has recorded 18 receptions for 204 yards with one touchdown. Wide receiver Robby Anderson leads the team with 31 receptions for 388 yards with 5 touchdowns. Temple will need to score first in this game to play their style of football at home. The Owls cannot afford to fall behind double digits against Notre Dame. The first drive for the Owls could be critical to force tempo of the game and to give Walker confidence as the game progresses.
Temple is built on a stingy defense that plays from start to finish each and every game. The Owls are allowing 14.6 points per game and are very good in run support allowing 117 rushing yards to their opponents. Temple has been able to force turnovers and is +3 in turnover margin on the season. However, at home, the team is -2 in turnover margin. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich is the leader of the unit and leads the team with 65 total tackles along with 4 sacks. Temple has done an excellent job in generating a pass rush and through 7 games has 23 sacks on the season. Defensive lineman Nate Smith leads the team with 6 sacks and consistently forces double teams which allows Matakevich to roam free to make plays. In order to get the home victory on Saturday night, Temple must limit big plays and force Notre Dame quarterback to read coverage. The Owls are allowing 215 passing yards per game and must be able to take chances in the secondary to create turnovers. Temple must be able to play disciplined football. Last week, the Owls committed 12 penalties against East Carolina and on the year, the team has committed 7.6 penalties per game.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor atwww.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: