The Temple Owls (0-0,0-0 AAC) kick off their 2017 season on the road against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0, Independent).
As noted in my previews parts 1 and 2, Temple is a mix of new and old with a lot of depth at most positions, but that may take time to gel. A match-up with ND to start will certainly be a good test.
Both teams are unranked, with the Irish getting 65 votes AP and 49 Coaches, and the Owls receiving 8 in the coaches poll.
The teams have only met twice, Notre Dame winning the first in 2013, 28-6 at Notre Dame. The last time was a memorable loss on 10/31/15, 24-20 at the Linc, which while an L, along with the earlier W over Penn State, showed that Temple belonged at least in the Mid-Majors of NCAA football. Temple was ranked 25th at the time and ND 10th.
Notre Dame Nuggets:
A sure starting QB:
Unlike Temple, where Head Coach Geoff Collins still has not designated a starting QB, there will be no guessing at Notre Dame, where JR Brandon Wimbush will start. While Wimbush did not play at all last season, in his FR year he played 2 games going 3-5, 17 yds. In the bulk of his action against UMass, he had 109 yards of total offense, gaining 92 yards on four carries while completing three of his five passes for 17 yards. One of his rushes was a 58-yard TD. He was the third string QB in 2016, which meant he saw a lot of time on the scout team against the top defense in practice.
Besides knowing that Wimbrush is a threat to rush, and an unknown quantity as a passer, they can be sure of the talents of ND’s leading returning RB Josh Adams. Adams had at least 800 yds rushing in his first two seasons, the only Irish player to do so. He comes into the season with 1,768 career yards, 527 yards shy of Notre Dame’s career top-10 list. He also scored five times last season.
As noted often the Irish will not know what Temple QB to game-plan for, so off the bat this causes a problem for a defense that is not much improved over the past. Notre Dame’s focus this season will be outscoring their opponents, and worrying about the D after that.
The first game of the season, if not a “cupcake” FCS opponent, is always one of the toughest to call. It is especially hard with all the changes for the Owls, as well as the unknowns of a new starting QB for both teams. Unfortunately I have a hard time believing the 17 point underdog Owls can overcome the emotions of opening day at South Bend, though I see them putting up a good showing. I will call it Notre Dame 28 – Temple 17.
TV NBC PBP Mike Tirico; Analyst Doug Flutie: Sidelines Kathryn Tappen
Radio 97.5 The Fanatic PBP Harry Donohue; Analyst Paul Palmer; Sidelines Harry Mayes
Student Radio WHIP PBP Max Mirkin; Analyst Matt Bevenour