Over the last few days, the betting line for the Temple at Rutgers opener has fluctuated between 14.5 points four days ago and 12.5 this morning.
Tomorrow, it could be 13.5 and Rutgers will probably remain favored until the opening kickoff.
Still, if anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, they are just fooling themselves.
No Temple game in my recent memory is more unpredictable than this one. The Owls have a five-star quarterback under center, D’Wan Mathis, who first committed to Michigan State, then Ohio State and then Georgia.
He started the opener last year for the Bulldogs and played more like a two-star.
If he plays like the guy recruited by MSU, OSU and Georgia, Rutgers could be in trouble. Those staffs are paid millions for evaluating big-time talent and they all loved him.
If he plays like he did in last year’s opener, Temple could be in trouble.
Ironically, the weather is the only thing seemingly certain for Thursday night (6 p.m. kickoff, Big 10 Network).
It could get between moderately wet and really wet between 6-10 p.m. in Piscataway. The middle of that spaghetti plot on the left has whatever is left of Hurricane Ida pretty much over New Jersey between 7 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday. The midpoint of those two times roughly corresponds with the three-plus hours the Owls and the Scarlet Knights will be battling.
If Temple running backs’ coach Gabe Infante is as good as we think he is (and we think he’s a gem), the emphasis the next couple days of practice will be for his group to hold the ball high and tight.
We already know defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles placed Priority No. 1 on getting turnovers because he said so four weeks ago. The Owls have been practicing stripping the ball, going after fumbles and tipping the ball and getting interceptions on deflections. That’s been as or more important than stopping the run and getting to the quarterback.
Which team holds onto the ball and takes it away probably will decide this game.
Not touchdown passes.
Not rushing stats or first downs.
And definitely not point spreads.
If the weather is as impactful as the cone of certainty suggests, this will probably be a low-scoring game, something on the order of 10-6, 14-7, even 17-7. We probably won’t see either quarterback throw for five touchdowns or 300 yards but might see a running back get 200.
Whatever, don’t forget the umbrella.
Friday: Game Analysis