Start Time: 8:00 PM EST, Saturday, October 31
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Records: Temple: 7-0. Notre Dame: 6-1. Notre Dame leads the overall series 1-0.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Temple +11. Over/Under: 50.
Notre Dame Outlook: The Golden Domers offensively can be described in one word: efficient. Notre Dame wastes no time moving downfield, scoring points in bunches, and rolling to impressive wins. Only Clemson could slow down the Fighting Irish offense, but it took a goal line stand to hold off Notre Dame.
The run game is key for the offense with the highest rated rushing S&P+ in the nation. With ball carriers like CJ Prosise, Josh Adams, and quarterback DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame can trot out high school All-Americans all through the offensive backfield. The only weakness in the rushing attack is a tendency to get stuffed for no gain or even a loss. Normally, the offense is able to overcome negative plays due to a team yards per carry average of 5.9.
It's hard to believe that the Irish are on their second quarterback of the season. After star Malik Zaire succumbed to injury, sophomore DeShone Kizer has been excellent with over 1,300 yards passing and 175 yards rushing. Will Fuller and Chris Brown are two of the best at catching the football with a combined 59 catches and 10 touchdowns on the season. The duo is good for 48.2% of all pass attempts in their direction. 264.3 yards per game come from the Irish passing game.
As good as Notre Dame is on offense, there is not much drop off on the defensive side of the ball. Many final scores are a bit deceiving as the Irish built up a large lead before giving up garbage points. If there is a clear weakness to the Notre Dame defense, it is the tendency to give up big plays. The defense plays very aggressive, so if Temple is able to find open spaces, lots of yards are available. The rush defense gives up 175.9 yards per game, so that is where the Owls must attack.
Players to watch on the Notre Dame defense include: Jaylon Smith, Isaac Rochell, and Sheldon Day.
Temple Outlook: Styles make games, and the Owls and the Fighting Irish are the classic example of a contrast in styles. The Owls can be encapsulated in one word: physical. That mindset is clearly evident with both the offense’s ground heavy attack and a swarming, aggressive defense that won’t be intimidated by the scene tomorrow night. Juxtapose that with a potent, athletic, talented Irish team that loves to spread things out and quicken the pace, and you have all the makings of a great prizefight.
If Temple wants to be successful, they’ll need to stick to the script they’ve followed so far this season. That means a healthy dose of P.J. Walker and Jahad Thomas. The one-two punch of Walker and Thomas have accounted for 2,130 of Temple’s 2,421 total yards, while Thomas has accounted for half (14) of the Owls’ 28 touchdowns this season. The Irish defense is one of the best Temple has seen this year, but their best chance lies in solid play from Walker and Thomas.
As for the Temple defense, you can bet they’ll be ready for the spotlight on the national stage. Allowing only 14.6 points per game, the Owls will be led once again by linebacker Tyler Matakevich (65 tackles), DT Matt Ioannidis (7.5 TFL) and CB Sean Chandler (29 tackles, 2 INT). Temple’s run defense, which holds opponents to 2.94 yards per rush, has been strong all season and will need to be again tomorrow night if the Owls want to come out on top.
More than anything else, the most important thing for the Owls tomorrow night will be getting off to a fast start. Over the past couple weeks, they’ve struggled early against UCF and ECU, trailing heading into the fourth quarter of both games before pulling away. The Owls cannot afford to do that against the Irish, and need a strong start if they want to feed off what will surely be a hyped crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jeremy: On paper, this game looks like a Notre Dame romp. This game will be much closer than many expect as Temple has a defense that the Irish rarely see, one that is aggressive and physical. The Owls will give a great effort, but fall short. Notre Dame 31, Temple 23.
Brian: The Owls will need a lot of things to go right to defeat the Irish. Galvanized by the spotlight, the Owls will keep it close, but the Irish will be a little too much and should pull out a hard fought win. Notre Dame 24 – Temple 21.