On Halloween night in 2015, Notre Dame was in Philadelphia playing the Temple Owls in the biggest game of the week. The ninth ranked Irish were 6-1 at the time and fresh off a win over archrival USC. Temple was an unbeaten team in the Top 25 looking for a signature win. ESPN’s "GameDay" crew was in town and there was an excitement in the air.
Quite a bit has changed in 22 months. The Owls did go 10-4 last season, but they must replace 14 starters along with head coach Matt Rhule, who is now at Baylor. Notre Dame is now looking to wipe away the memories of a 4-8 showing in 2016.
The Irish won that game in 2015 and also the only other previous meeting to hold a 2-0 series edge.
Temple at Notre Dame
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Notre Dame -17.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Brandon Wimbush era begins
When DeShone Kizer decided to test the NFL waters, there was no doubt who the next Notre Dame quarterback would be. Those who followed the program closely have been lauding Wimbush’s talents since he arrived on campus, and on Saturday afternoon he will finally get his chance to start for the Irish. The junior from Teaneck, New Jersey, has a strong arm and can really run, making him a perfect fit for head coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense.
2. A new Temple quarterback, too
With P.J. Walker running the show, Temple had stability at quarterback for four years. Now, there is a battle between four candidates, and new head coach Geoff Collins has indicated that as many as three of those players could see action against the Irish. Either Frank Nutile or Logan Marchi will start, and Collins told the media on Tuesday that he has informed them both who will open the game, though he would not make his decision public.
3. Notre Dame offensive line vs. Temple front seven
The Irish return four starters along the offensive line, including stars on the left side in tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson. Across the way, Temple brings back only one starter up front on defense. If the Owls have any shot of competing in the game, they cannot allow themselves to get manhandled by the talented Notre Dame offensive line.
There is a lot of newness in this game. Geoff Collins arrives from Florida to replace Matt Rhule, and with him comes a whole new staff. The most noticeable difference for Temple should be on offense, where new coordinator Dave Patenaude may look to quicken the tempo a bit. While Notre Dame has the same head coach, three new coordinators ensure that the Irish will have a different look this year. New offensive coordinator Chip Long has mentioned that the Irish may lean on the running game more, and that would be a good strategy against a Temple defense that is strong in the secondary but questionable up front. The Owls have some interesting skill players on offense in running back Ryquell Armstead and wide receiver Ventell Bryant, but they need solid quarterback play. Notre Dame has more talent overall, and that will win out over 60 minutes.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, 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.
(Ryquell Armstead photo by Joseph V. Labolito)