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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Temple Owls Preview and Prediction

Author:
Will Fuller

Will Fuller

When it comes to college football tradition, Notre Dame and Temple are on the opposite side of the tracks. Notre Dame boasts 11 national titles, seven Heisman Trophy winners, and the highest winning percentage amongst all Division One programs. Temple has a .434 winning percentage, has been to just four bowl games in its history, and has just one ten-win season.

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But currently they are living in the same neighborhood. Notre Dame is 6-1 and ranked No. 9 in both polls. For the first time ever, Temple is 7-0 and is ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll and No. 22 in the Coaches Poll.

Temple survived a battle last Thursday night at East Carolina while Notre Dame had a week off following their victory over archrival USC. The Irish and the Owls have played just once before with ND winning 28-6 in the 2013 season opener.

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Notre Dame at Temple

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

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Three Things to Watch

1. Notre Dame's Team Speed

On Notre Dame’s first offensive play against USC, Philly-native Will Fuller ran right past the Trojans’ Adoree Jackson, one of the fastest men in college football, and hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from DeShone Kizer. Temple hasn’t seen that kind of speed and it is something that is hard to replicate in practice. Of course, Fuller is not the only fast guy on Notre Dame. Defensively, Jaylon Smith’s speed and athleticism is hard to match at linebacker. ND’s secondary can run like few teams on Temple’s schedule. Even Sheldon Day’s first-step quickness at defensive tackle is very impressive. Temple has fast players; their guys are just not Notre Dame fast.

2. Putting a Helmet on Tyler Matakevich

The senior middle linebacker is a one-man wrecking crew. He leads Temple with 65 tackles and four interceptions and is second on the team in tackles for lost yardage and sacks. The Owls have the nation’s sixth-ranked rushing defense and Matakevich is the main reason that they are so successful. The Irish know firsthand just how good the senior from Stratford, Conn., is. In the 2013 game in South Bend, Matakevich had 11 total tackles, seven solo, with two tackles for lost yardage. ND will have an eye on No. 8 all night long.

3. Giving Kizer Time to Throw

Temple is 11th in sacks with 23. But that isn’t really the whole story. They had 10 sacks in the season opener against Penn State, four against Tulane, and six in the most recent win over East Carolina. Doing the math, that’s just three sacks in the other four games. Gunner Kiel of Cincinnati threw the ball 52 times and was sacked just once while UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel was brought down just once on 56 drop backs. If Kizer has time to throw, the Notre Dame receivers are too talented for the Temple defenders to cover.

Final Analysis

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With ESPN's "College GameDay" in Philadelphia on Saturday and the ABC prime time crew ready for the broadcast, this is the highest profile game in Temple football history. There will be energy at Lincoln Financial Field but with east coast Notre Dame fans gobbling up their share of tickets early on, it won’t just be Owl supporters making noise. Temple will try to run the ball with Jahad Thomas against the Irish’s 85th-ranked rush defense. Notre Dame’s defense has given up the big play, but Temple may not have the playmakers to take advantage of that Irish deficiency. Notre Dame will try to run as well, but don’t be surprised to see the Irish passing first to set up the run. Temple will have to prevent Notre Dame big plays, so passes underneath to Fuller, Chris Brown, and others should be open. With the excitement of the big game, Temple will hang around early. In the end, though, Notre Dame’s talent will win out.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Temple 17

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.