Temple will face cross-state rival Pittsburgh this Saturday at Veterans’ Stadium at noon. And, yes, they have a good chance to sneak this one out.
<font face=”verdana, arial, helvetica” size=”2″ color=”#ffffff”Temple Football vs. Pittsburgh
If you go…
What: Temple (2-4, 1-2 Big East) vs. Pittsburgh (1-5, 0-3 Big East)
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Veterans Stadium
What to look for: Temple is coming off of a 45-3 loss to Syracuse last weekend that all but ended their bowl hopes. They would need miracle wins against Miami and Virginia Tech to make it to a bowl. Running back Tanardo Sharps had a big game against Rutgers, but was halted by Syracuse. He will need to step it up for Temple to win. The Owls are 5-2 when he rushes for over 100 yards in a game.
Pittsburgh suffered a 45-7 loss at Boston College last week. Quarterback David Priestly has thrown for over 900 yards this season. But wide receiver Antonio Bryant, the best in the nation last year, only has 15 catches for 229 yards. He should have a big game against Temple’s secondary, which is prone to letting up big plays.
Why they haven’t lived up to the hype: Both Temple and Pittsburgh expected big things this season. They both expected bowl games, which would be Temple’s first since 1979. But both teams started out slow and haven’t gotten much better.
Pittsburgh was expected to be in the top three of the Big East, instead they’re below Temple. Pitt replaced quarterback John Turman with Priestly, but with Bryan hurt and falsely accused of credit card fraud, Pitt’s offense has not been effective.
The only reason to go to the game is to see who the second-worst team in the conference is. At least both teams know they’re better than Rutgers.
Coming off of a horrible 45-3 loss to Syracuse last week, where they were out of the game before the first quarter, Temple comes into this game with a 2-4 record.
“This is a very critical game for us, a game that is important to just focus,” Coach Bobby Wallace said.
Last year Pittsburgh was a solid team that went to a bowl. Yet last week, Pittsburgh was smothered by Boston College 45-7. They had hopes of a bowl this year, but came into last week’s game with a disappointing 1-5 record.
You thought Temple had it bad.
Pittsburgh (1-5, 0-3 Big East) is on a 5-game losing streak. Temple (2-4, 1-2) looks to keep that streak going. Even with a horrible loss last week to a decent Syracuse team, Temple is taking it week by week and sees Pittsburgh as a fresh start.
Despite the record, Pittsburgh still has one of the best pairs of wide receivers in the Big East with junior Antonio Bryant, the top receiver in the nation last year, on one side, and senior R.J. English on the other.
Injuries have slowed down Bryant, last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, given to the nation’s top receiver. But English has filled in well, catching 20 balls for 370 yards and 3 touchdowns. Getting both receivers started will be part of the Panthers game plan.
“Antonio is a great player, one of the best receivers in the country. English isn’t bad either,” Wallace said about playing this dynamic duo. “We need to contain them, have good coverage, and have a good pass rush to be successful against them.”
Offensively for the Owls, this game is important because this is the healthiest the offensive line has been all year. This is their time to show that they can pass, protect and create holes for running back Tanardo Sharps.
No more excuses, they have to get the job done offensively.
Last week the offensive line went up against Big East sack leader Dwight Freeney of Syracuse and held him pretty much in check for the game. He did have two sacks that game, but both were against the tight end not the offensive line.
Offensively it all starts with the line blocking and giving time especially with freshman quarterback Mike McGann at the helm. This team needs to show its character, and not give up on the season.
“Character comes out when faced with the tough times,” Wallace said. “This season isn’t over. Forget about last Saturday and play for next Saturday.”
Wallace had a lot of time to think about what to tell his players since they were out of the Syracuse game from the start.
He told them to show their character as people and players on this team. Stop the aerial show of Bryant and English, no excuses with a healthy offensive line, and just get to the job done, 12 p.m. on Saturday at Veterans’ Stadium.