Staff Predictions: Temple vs. Notre Dame
Observer Football Beat Writers | Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Don’t think for one second that South Florida isn’t on the mind of every Notre Dame senior and junior. And probably the entire Temple team as well.
2011 looked like it was going to be the official turnaround for Notre Dame football with a promising year ahead and big expectations before the Irish were thunderstruck.
I really don’t know what to expect from Temple other than what Bill Cosby told me last summer. Neither does Brian Kelly.
But I do know what to expect from the Irish, especially a defense that I expect to (somehow) be faster and more intimidating than last season. What I’m really interested in seeing is who will to step up in a talented backfield after the Irish lost Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick.
But this one shouldn’t be a problem.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 41, Temple 10
Assistant Managing Editor
Temple finished 84th in the country last season in scoring offense and 107th in total offense. And now, they are without last season’s leading rusher and 1,000-yard man Montel Harris. New Owls quarterback Connor Reilly has never attempted a pass in college and was a fourth-string quarterback a season ago.
As far as Notre Dame’s defense goes, I think they are supposed to be a little good this year, right? They return seven starters from a defense that posted the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation and is eager to erase all memory from the Alabama game.
So a good defense is going up against a bad offense in the first game of the season, when defenses are typically ahead of offenses. Advantage: Notre Dame.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Temple 3
At least on paper, Notre Dame is the better team. On Saturday, it will come down to how good the Irish, specifically the offense, can be in the season opener.
If the offense struggles to hit the ground running with a “new” quarterback in Tommy Rees and a bevy of talented but unproven running backs, Notre Dame could fail to distance itself from Temple.
But if all the preseason hype that Rees is stronger and quicker and TJ Jones is a potential first-round pick is justified, the offense will put this one on ice early.
What’s likely to happen? Something in between. Rees will be solid and a balanced running game will rack up yardage, setting up a date with Michigan.
Just hope the Irish don’t look that far ahead.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Temple 10
Associate Sports Editor
Temple’s revamped offense will have quite a test in its debut week. With a new coaching staff, new quarterback and new style, the Owls could quite probably find themselves on different pages come Saturday.
Even if they avoid shooting themselves in the foot, the Owls will be staring down the barrel of an impressive Irish defense. Aside from first glimpses at a number of promising freshman players, the most important part of this game from an Irish perspective will be how Rees performs under center. He could probably afford to make a few mistakes and still secure a win, but the senior could make things much easier for Brian Kelly if he submits a strong showing. He will, and the Irish will cruise to victory.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Temple 6
Better Notre Dame teams have been upset by lesser squads than Temple. But after having no one to hit but themselves for the past eight months, it matters who the Irish play on Saturday. This game is about all of us discovering what Notre Dame can be this season.
This year’s defense is expected to improve on last season’s historic unit, but a stable of returners and a crop of exciting new faces could be up to that Herculean task.
Tommy Rees is back under the gun this year, but no longer has a Floyd or Eifert as a safety blanket. He’ll truly need to run the offense in his senior season, and Saturday will be an early test of how he distributes the ball.
The Irish won’t need their “A” game yet, but the road gets tough in a hurry.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 37, Temple 7