Rivalry Renewed

When Temple was in the Big East the first time, both fans of Temple and Rutgers football teams looked forward to the teams' annual matchup. Part of that was geography. And part of it is their meeting was often the best chance for either team to get a conference win. So with the Owls returning to the Big East, a rivalry will be renewed this Saturday. But this time, it will be different.

When Temple was in the Big East the first time, both fans of Temple and Rutgers football teams looked forward to the teams' annual matchup.

Part of that was geography. And part of it is their meeting was often the best chance for either team to get a conference win.

So with the Owls returning to the Big East, a rivalry will be renewed this Saturday when the Scarlet Knights travel to Lincoln Financial Field.

But this time, the Scarlet Knights are nationally-ranked No. 19 and undefeated at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the league. Temple, picked for last in its return to the Big East, is 3-2 overall and 2-0 in conference.

This Saturday's game will carry more importance than any of the 14 the teams played as conference rivals from 1991-2004. The crowd – which has a chance to be close to 40,000 – would also dwarf the attendance of many of the former meetings.

"Obviously, (the rivalry) is real important, we take to heart coming back into the Big East, representing the Northeast and Big East football and being a competitive program within this conference," said Temple coach Steve Addazio.

"For the Big East to bring another quality Northeast program in (with Pittsburgh and Syracuse leaving) is critical, and we're showing it's the right thing and right fit and the future will be bright."

That future has been accelerated a bit with the Owls' strong start in the conference, putting all eyes on Philadelphia when the teams battle with first place on the line.

"Obviously we're hoping for just a great crowd, a tremendous crowd, a great student section," said Addazio. "I want Philadelphia to come alive. Coming in, playing a ranked team, a great team, coming off a couple victories, it's going to be an exciting college football day at the Linc and a great experience. Our expectation is it will be that kind of crowd, a lot of fun, that's what that's all about."

With a Big East that is due to expand to Texas, Idaho and California next year, the conference won't be built on its regional rivalries, but there will be a few that still exist.

"We have a chance to go down the turnpike and play a regional football game," said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood. "As I've said in the past, I really enjoy that part of college football. I'm not so sure how much longer that can be the case, you know, as college football evolves but I think when you have opportunities to play these games, it's always fun."

Addazio acknowledged the importance of the game regionally and knows it will be important to put on a good show on Saturday – and maybe come out with a win and first place in the Big East.

"Of course it has extra meaning," said Addazio. "We have a lot of New Jersey players. Rutgers is right down the road, and some guys (on our team) were recruited (by Rutgers) and some weren't. You talk about geographical games, a lot of guys know a lot of guys.

"There's all the things that have a tendency to bring about geographical rivalries (between Temple and Rutgers.) At one time these schools had that rivalry, and we hope it re-emerges."

The schools had a rivalry once, but in those days the outlook was bleak for both programs. Starting Saturday, the new Temple-Rutgers rivalry has a chance to become what the teams of 10 and 20 years ago hoped for, but never came about.

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