Although both Villanova and Buffalo wear different shades of Blue and White, there is no doubt about one thing.
Buffalo is a better version of Villanova. Just because Buffalo is better than Nova, there is no reason for Temple to panic (3:30 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field, no over-the-air TV) against its former MAC rivals.
Fortunately, transitive property has been proven faulty on many occasions and matchups are more relevant than any other factor in college football.
In that area, Temple would seem to have the advantage.
The game will simply come down to this: Temple exploiting the one weakness Buffalo has demonstrated not only this year but over the past 13 games: Run defense. Against a very bad FCS team, Delaware State, the Bulls yielded 199 yards rushing. Villanova might be the Alabama of FCS football (although that is yet to be proven), but Delaware State is probably closer to the New Mexico State version of FCS football and the fact it could gain that many yards against a FBS team is alarming. Of the 127 FBS teams, Buffalo is ranked No. 95 against the run. Last year, the Bulls were even worse—ranked No. 96th (195.3 ypg) against the run in a 12-game season. This is probably not the game OC Dave Patenaude should have Frankie Nutile winging it all over the lot nor the kind of game he throws a couple of passes after getting first-and-goal at the 1 (like the Army game a year ago).
So if the Owls commit to the run behind a proven AAC championship tailback (Ryquell Armstead, 916 yards, 15 touchdowns in 2016) following a fullback like they did in back-to-back 10-win seasons, they can accomplish two very important things:
- Controlling the clock and the game, chewing up big chunks of yards and scoring touchdowns on the ground;
- Keeping the ball away from the two NFL prospects on the Bulls, quarterback Tyree Jackson and wide receiver Anthony Johnson.
Jackson a very accurate 6-foot-7 passer and can see over a Temple pass rush that is already down one starting defensive end (Dana Levine, out 4-6 weeks with an injury). Levine’s subs got pushed around by the Villanova starting offensive line while the only heavy lifting at the defensive end position was being done by Quincy Roche at the other end. Too bad the Owls couldn’t recruit a guy who was named the No. 12-ranked DE in the United States when he got out of high school three years ago.
This will not be the easiest
game of the season, but
it will certainly be the
easiest game plan
of the remaining dozen or
so games left on the schedule.
In about 24 hours, we will
have a good idea if the highly
paid professionals running
the Temple program are able
to figure out what anyone
with a minimum football IQ can
Oh yeah, Karamo Dioubate is getting limited snaps in the interior of the line while walk-ons back up the other end. It would seem to be a simple move to slot Dioubate in his more comfortable position so as to help Roche create additional pressure.
A lot of things that appear logical to the casual observer about this Temple team were illogical the first week of the season.
Maybe naming fullback Rob Ritrovato one of the four game captains is a sign that the Owls are getting back to the Temple TUFF brand of running game Owl fans know and love. Maybe it’s just window dressing like calling Nick Sharga “the best fullback in the country” one year ago and limiting him only to five downs or less in the actual games.
This will not be the easiest game of the season, but it will certainly be the easiest game plan of the remaining dozen or so games left on the schedule. In about 24 hours, we will have a good idea if the highly paid professionals running the Temple program are able to figure out what anyone with a minimum football IQ can.
Sunday: Game Analysis