Opponent outlook: Temple finds spotlight with undefeated start

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

For at least one night this season, Philadelphia will be the center of the college football universe this weekend when Notre Dame (6-1) visits Temple (7-0).

The City of Brotherly Love, normally known for its professional franchises, will allow the college game to command the spotlight. Even ESPN's College GameDay will be stationed at Independence Mall to add to the spectacle.

Mike Kern, Temple football beat writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, takes a look at what will likely go into this matchup.

ND Insider: How has the city of Philadelphia reacted to Temple's impressive start?

Mike Kern: It’s obviously gotten more play in the media, especially since the Eagles have a bye this week. This will always be a pro town first, but the fact that Temple is on the radar and it’s Notre Dame, yes, it will be big. And it’s the only thing really going on, which helps. I don’t know how much the average fan is into it, but the ones who care a little seem to care a lot more, just because.

NDI: How will the Owls handle the national prime-time stage?

Kern: Hard to say. They handled the stage pretty well against Penn State, Cincy and East Carolina. So I’m not sure the moment will be too big for them. But this is different than really anything they’ve been through before. I think the fact that they’re not supposed to win, according to most everyone else, is probably a good thing. They’ve won three times as underdogs.

NDI: What have been the main ingredients to Temple's success?

Kern: They’re a tough team, with some veteran kids at key spots, and they just seem to believe. A lot of these kids are the same ones that went 2-10 two years ago. They’ve been through a lot, most of it not good. And I think so far they’ve handled this all really well. Because it is new territory. And they’ve played well. They’re not TCU or Baylor. They’re more old school. They want to run the ball, play defense and get to the fourth quarter and beat you. And it’s worked. The defense has really been outstanding. So has the running game. Last year the o-line was a problem, but they’ve played well. So it’s been a bunch of things. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if they get behind and have to play maybe a little differently than they’d prefer. But they’ve come back late at UMass and against UCF and at ECU. None of those, though, were ND.

NDI: Why has running back Jahad Thomas (165 carries, 822 yards, 12 TDs) been so effective?

Kern: He’s pretty talented, and they’ve been opening up some holes for him. Pretty simple, really. It’s easy to see his talent. Last year the line just wasn’t very good, for whatever reasons, and the running game and passing game suffered. The QB was mostly running for his life. Now they’re looking to run it down your throat, and pass second.

NDI: How will Temple's defense try to attack an effective Notre Dame offense?

Kern: They’ll just try to play their game, because it’s worked so far. They’re one of the best units in the country, and they believe they can stop anyone. So we’ll see. This is the best offense they’ve faced, but this might be one of the best defenses ND has faced too. The key is not to change what’s got them here. That’s often easier said than done, especially on a stage like this.

Temple running back Jahad Thomas (5) runs toward the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)