Unless there are some backroom dealings we don’t know about, Rutgers will be making its last trip to Philadelphia to play Temple tomorrow (2 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field).
Maybe not ever, but certainly for a long, long time.
That’s a shame because two FBS college football teams separated by only 67 miles should play probably every year. To put this in perspective, only few other possible matchups are shorter drives among the current 130 FBS teams. In the traditional East, Maryland vs. Navy is closer as is Pitt vs. West Virginia but that’s it.
Rutgers at Temple is not on any future schedule. Temple finishes up the current series in Piscataway next Sept. 9.
It’s a short trip geographically, but a long, strange one, football-wise, for both teams.
Many times–but not all–the unexpected happens.
That’s really a trademark of rivalry games.
Temple won its only game in 1989 by upsetting Rutgers, 36-33, in the season finale at Veterans Stadium. Not a big upset but the Scarlet Knights that year beat Northwestern and Boston College. In 1949, Temple came home from a 54-0 shellacking at the hands of Texas and beat a pretty good Rutgers team, 14-7, at Temple Stadium. RU finished 6-3 that year.
This has been a pretty competitive series. Temple voluntarily forfeited the 1986 game, which it won. The NCAA didn’t recognize Temple’s forfeit so the real lead is 20-16. Both schools, however, are going with the number that includes Temple’s voluntary forfeit so the game notes read 21-15.
It doesn’t really matter though because any series this tight both on the field and geographically qualifies as a rivalry.
RU has played Temple in four Philadelphia stadiums, all inside the City Limits–Temple Stadium, Franklin Field, Veterans Stadium and, now, Lincoln Financial Field.
To be honest, I thought Temple only had a chance to beat Rutgers IF the Owls won at Duke.
I still think that theory applies, but history has trumped logic a few times before in this and maybe it can again.
Let’s put it this way: Temple’s loss to Duke in Week One looked a lot worse then than it does now and Rutgers’ win at Boston College looked a lot better then than now.
Duke dominated Temple but then went on to dominate a Northwestern team that beat Nebraska. Both Temple and Northwestern had similar success, at least from the defensive end, in the second half against Duke.
Boston College, on the other hand, after losing at home to Rutgers by one, lost to a Virginia Tech team that lost to G5 Old Dominion. Then, once you thought ODU was good, the Monarchs got dominated by an East Carolina program that lost four of its six games to Temple.
The other X-factor is that D’Wan Mathis has killed Temple as its quarterback since beating Memphis a year ago. He plays for self-preservation and, if that means putting the ball don’t the ground for the bad guys to pick up, so be it. At least he’s not getting hurt.
Rod Carey watched that, folded his arms, looked skyward and kept Mathis in the game, absorbing the beatings.
The new guy, Stan Drayton, proved to Temple fans that he won’t sit back and take beatings last week. He pulled Mathis after the second time he put it on the ground.
E.J. Warner has the opposite mindset and the team has rallied behind him. His style of ball deserves an extended look.
Behind Warner, Temple showed some life against a Lafayette team considerably better than the Wagner team that lost to RU 66-7 a week ago.
Vegas has noticed.
A lot of self-flagellating Temple fans thought the opening 16-point line was low. No doubt a lot of RU fans did, too but Vegas’ job is to set the line to get an equal number of bets on both sides.
The line has gone up to 17.5 in the last five days.
Homecoming should be a factor as Temple was an underdog three of the last four years on HC and won outright all four times. Temple fans grabbed up all of the seats on one side of this field two weeks ago and that contributed to 90 percent of Lot K being filled by Temple fans. On Thursday night, Lincoln Financial Field announced that Lot K parking–the largest lot nearest LFF–is sold out.
Rutgers, no doubt, will bring a large contingent of fans. Our sources in the LFF ticket office predict an announced attendance of 45,000, with roughly a 30,000 Temple group vs. a 15-20K from RU. Only if RU brings 20K could this announced attendance hit 50K. (They base it on Temple grabbing 90 percent of the Lot K parking spots.)
To be honest, I do not know what is going to happen either in the stands or on the field.
This could be anything from a 49-7 Rutgers win to Temple repeating its 36-33 upset in 1989.
What we will say is this series needs to be both extended and renewed and, if the administration of both schools is paying attention to their supporters, this better not be the last time Rutgers visits Philadelphia.
Our picks this week: Two favorites, two dogs. Love Lance Leipold and the points at Houston, and also Purdue (which probably should be favored) at Syracuse. WSU should kill CSU as should KSU and Kade Warner Tulane.
Last week ATS: 3-2 (won on Duke, App State and UTSA and lost on ODU and Vandy)
Season ATS: 3-2
Prediction update: Split on this weekend’s games, as our instincts were correct on Lance Leipold winning at Houston and Washington State killing CSU. Only a Hail Mary pass at the Carrier Dome kept us from going to 3-1 as Syracuse beat Purdue and Tulane’s win at Kansas State was a real head-scratcher.
So far: 5-4 ATS on the season.
Sunday: Game Analysis
Monday: Legacy Analysis