TEMPLE’S UPSET HOPES RIDE WITH DEFENSE AGAINST NOTRE DAME

Temple’s linebacker Tyler Matakevich is having an All-American season.

By Jack Ryan

If you’re looking at the Temple-Notre game dispassionately, the Irish are a 10-point favorite but the Owls have a chance for an upset because of their defense.

Temple has gotten it done with defense. The Owls are 14th nationally in total defense (307.7 yards per game), including sixth against the run (91.9). Notre Dame is 15th nationally in rushing offense, averaging 234.6 yards per game. C.J. Prosise has 922 rushing yards and 11 TDs.

Temple is 7-0 for the first time in program history. And tomorrow night at the Linc the No. 21 Owls will be involved in their first game ever between ranked teams when No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) comes to town.

“If you just look back on our game in 2013 and where he’s taken this program, they are deserving of their ranking,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on Tuesday. “They have earned everything that they have gotten this year as a football team.”

This week, that includes a visit from College GameDay and a nationally televised primetime game.

“It’s exciting for people in the area,” Temple coach Matt Rhule said on the American Athletic Conference teleconference. “I’m glad it’s here. It will be a great day. Our players all year have tried to control the only thing we can control, and that’s us and how we play and our preparation.

“As long as we do what we can do, we’ll play it out, play as hard as we can and live with the result. If we get too caught up in everything else, then we won’t play well. I’m pretty confident our kids will have the right focus and be ready for the game.”

“We’re a good team,” Rhule said. “We’re fighting, scratching and clawing to be a great team. We’re a tough team, a resilient team. Like any team, we’re not perfect, but our kids play together and believe in each other and stick together.

“All that will be tested this week because Notre Dame is extremely talented, extremely well-coached. And they too are the type of team that is resilient. They are down and they come back and find a way to win.”

The Irish rallied in their last game to beat USC 41-31 on Oct. 17. They return to action after a bye.

“It will be an outstanding environment to play in,” Kelly said. “It won’t take much to get our guys excited about it.”

It will be an atmosphere few would have predicted back in 2013.

“I don’t know if I’ve projected anything,” Rhule said. “I’m more of a day-to-day guy. I’m happy with where we are, though.”

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