Sneak peek: Temple tidbits

Temple head coach Matt Rhule made his head-coaching debut at Notre Dame in 2013 as Brian Kelly and the Irish claimed a hard-fought 28-6 victory.

• Undefeated: With Temple’s 24-14 victory at East Carolina Thursday night, the Owls are 7-0 for the first time since…ever. Temple football began in 1930. It marks just the 15th time in its history that it’s reached seven victories.

• Rhule the day: Temple head coach Matt Rhule’s first game as a head coach was Aug. 31, 2013 in Notre Dame Stadium as the Fighting Irish took a 14-0 first-quarter lead, a 21-6 halftime advantage, and shut out the Owls over the final 31:01 en route to a 28-6 victory.

Notre Dame – a 29-point favorite -- netted 543 yards total offense, including 346 yards through the air by Tommy Rees, who had two 32-yard touchdown passes to DaVaris Daniels and a 66-yarder to Troy Niklas with 43 seconds left in the first half. Temple had 134 yards rushing, 228 yards passing and 25 first downs (to Notre Dame’s 21).

Temple won just two games in 2013, but improved to 6-6 in 2014 as the defense improved from allowing 29.8 points per game to just 17.5. The Owls’ total defense also improved from 474 yards allowed per game to 347.

• Win a game, sign a contract: After Notre Dame’s 28-6 victory over Temple to open the 2013, the University announced the five-year contract extension of Irish head coach Brian Kelly. The victory was the 200th of Kelly’s career.

• It’s about time: How long had it been since Temple had defeated Penn State? When the Owls knocked off the Nittany Lions, 27-10, to open the 2015 season, it marked Temple’s first win over Penn State since Oct. 18, 1941 – 74 years.

How long ago was that? Here’s a little perspective: Joe Paterno was 14-years old. Since then, Penn State had been 38-0-1 against Temple with the tie coming in 1950.

Since 1991, Temple has won two or fewer games 13 times.

• Sack attack: In Temple’s upset victory over Penn State, the Owls defense sacked Nittany Lion quarterback Christian Hackenberg an incredible 10 times. A week later – at Cincinnati – Bearcats quarterback Gunner Kiel was sacked four times.
 
Through seven games, the Owls have 22 sacks, although nearly half of those came in the first game. Sacks have been on the rise under defensive coordinator Phil Snow, from 19 in 2013 to 27 in 2014.

• Deceiving numbers: While the progress of Temple’s defense is noteworthy, a little perspective is in order.

Temple ranks No. 8 nationally in scoring defense at 14.6 points per game while ranking 20th in total defense. Among its opponents: Central Florida is ranked last (No. 128) in total offense. Tulane sits at No. 124. Penn State is No. 112. Charlotte started its program in 2013 and is ranked No. 91. (The 49ers are in a transitional season and aren’t even bowl eligible if they reach six victories.)

• Matakevich the man: Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich always dominates Temple’s defensive stats. He led the team in tackles as a freshman (101) en route to the Big East Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, as a sophomore (137) en route to first-team all-AAC, and as a junior (117) with first-team all-AAC honors once again.

Matakevich has 65 tackles through seven games in ’15. He’s led the team in tackles in all seven games.

• No doubting Thomas: Junior running back Jahad Thomas has taken a huge step forward this season after pacing the Owls in rushing last year with just 384 yards and zero touchdowns.

Through seven games, Thomas has rushed for 822 yards, a 5.0-yard average per carry and 12 rushing touchdowns. Thomas has scored at least one rushing touchdown in all seven games, including three against Central Florida and two each against Penn State, Charlotte and East Carolina. He’s also caught 18 passes for 204 yards.

• Land of Lincoln: The Owls play their home games at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The upswing of the Temple program and the state-of-the-art facility has brought out the best in Owls fans. When Temple opened at home against Penn State, it marked just the second sellout of an Owls game since 2003. The other was the 2007 game against Penn State.

• Rank and file: With its 30-16 victory over winless Central Florida on Oct. 17, the Owls moved to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. That’s Temple’s first national ranking since 1979.

• Road warriors: Temple defeated Cincinnati, UMass and Charlotte in back-to-back-to-back games, marking a first in the program’s history.

• I know him: Recognizable names that have been the head coach at Temple – Pop Warner (1933-38); Wayne Hardin (1971-82), who was Navy’s head coach from 1959-64; Bruce Arians (1983-88), the current Arizona Cardinals head coach who went 27-39 with the Owls; Al Golden (2006-10), current Miami head coach who won 17 games his last two seasons with the Owls; and current Boston College head coach and former Irish assistant Steve Addazio, who led Temple to a 13-11 record in 2011-12.


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