Both in new eras, Temple set to take on Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — In the family of Pennsylvania college football, Temple is like Penn State's kid brother. The Owls inch closer each year to ending decades of futility against the Nittany Lions, only to be outmuscled at the end by their in-state foe.
If this is a rivalry, it's decidedly one-sided — though Penn State's adversity-tested players aren't talking like it is.
"I'm not sure it's a rival. It's not a conference game, but it's going to be a good game," linebacker Michael Mauti said. "They're going to come in here fired up. They're right in our backyard ... We have to make sure we have to play four quarters."
The Nittany Lions taught Temple (1-1) a lesson in finishing strong the previous two years. In 2011, Penn State (1-2) pitched a second-half shutout but didn't take the lead until late in the third quarter of a 22-13 win at Beaver Stadium.
Last season in Philadelphia, Mauti's fourth-quarter interception set up the game-winning drive capped by Michael Zordich's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:42 left in a 14-10 win that deprived Temple of a program-defining upset.
Officially, the Temple losing streak in the series stands at 22 games since the seven Penn State victories from 2003 have been vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Owls tied Penn state 7-7 in 1950, but otherwise have been winless in the series since a 14-0 shutout on Oct. 18, 1941 — or about two months before the United States entered World War II.
But enough about the past.
Temple coach Steve Addazio doesn't even want to talk about 2011, even if the Owls came tantalizingly close to victory.
"I really, frankly don't care about last year," Addazio said this week. "This is the 2012 team ... It's about finding out what 2012 is trying to do best. Last year is irrelevant to me because it's a different game with different people."
Addazio has enough worries molding a young team that's also been hit by injuries. Temple has had two weeks to get healthy since its last contest, a mistake-filled, 36-27 loss at home to Maryland.
Center Sean Boyle and left guard Jeff Whittingham returned to practice this week after battling injuries. Freshman Kyle Friend is listed as the starter at right guard.
This may not be the ideal situation against Penn State's front seven, the strength of the team. The Nittany Lions have forced four turnovers each of the last two games.