By Julie Glass

Tomorrow’s the big day.

It’ll be Temple Tuff vs. Villanova’s Big Cats at the Linc in the first game of the 2018 college football season.

The two Philly teams first played at Lincoln Financial Field in 2003. Temple and Villanova played their first game against one another in 1908, and it ended in a 12-0 Villanova victory.

The two have played 34 times over the past 110 years. The series record is tied 16-16-2. The Owls have outscored the Wildcats 569-471 all-time. The largest margin of victory was a 41-3 Temple victory in 1975.

Temple’s starting quarterback, Frank Nutile, will make his first career home opener start. The Owls return a solid starting receiving pair in graduate Ventell Bryant and junior Isaiah Wright. Wright is coming off a record setting season, when he scored in five different ways (receiving, rushing, passing, punt return, and kick return). He was also named to the 2018 Paul Hornung Award watch list, given to the most versatile college football player in the country.

RB Ryquell Armstead returns as the starting running back for the Owls, he was named to the preseason Doak Walker watch list, an award given to the nation’s top running back. Redshirt senior FB Rob Ritrovato, who walked on to the team as a freshman, was given the prestigious single-digit #4, will also look to make an impact in the ground game. Coming off an electric preseason camp, redshirt sophomore WR Brandon Mack will also be looking to contribute to the high powered Owls offense.

Defensively, the Owls will return a menacing defense that looks to improve on an impressive 2017 campaign. Temple added transfer cornerback Rock Ya-Sin last spring and he was awarded #6 over the summer. Senior DB Delvon Randallcommands the defensive backfield for the second year in a row. Randall was named to the preseason Bronko Nagurski, Bednarik, and Jim Thorpe award watch lists. The Owls also return starting DL graduate Michael Dogbe. Dogbe looks to wreak havoc with the rest of the ‘Wild Boyz.’ Fellow defensive linemen Quincy Roche, Dan Archibong, and Freddie Booth-Lloyd are returning to the mix this season and look to continue Temple’s success on defense.

September 9, 2017. Just one year ago the Owls home opener was also against the Wildcats. Temple took a 10-0 lead into the half and extended the lead to 13-0 on a 44 yard field goal by Aaron Boumerhi. Villanova proceeded to score 13 unanswered points to tie the game with 3:29 left to play. The Owls drove down the field 42 yards on seven plays before Boumerhi kicked a game winning 49 yard field goal to seal the game 16-13 with a minute to spare.

After Villanova, the Owls will have another game at the Linc as non-conference opponent Buffalo comes to town. The Owls will then have their first away game as they head to Maryland to take on the Terrapins.

Temple is 63-50-6 all-time in home openers. Of those 63 wins, Temple has four wins against the Villanova Wildcats – 9/3/10, 9/1/11, 8/31/12, and 9/9/17.

In the last four matchups, Temple has outscored Villanova 130-54.
9/3/10 – W, 31-24         9/1/11 – W, 42-7         8/31/12 – W, 41-10          9/9/17 – W, 16-13