Monday, December 22, 2014

Much at stake for Temple football this weekend

The Owls can make a statement on multiple levels by beating Connecticut.

Much at stake for Temple football this weekend

The timing surely wasn't intentional, but it is what it is. As the discussion swirls about Villanova following in Connecticut's footsteps from I-AA football to the Big East, the Huskies come to Philadelphia tomorrow to face a team that got kicked out of the Big East not too long ago.

As Mike Kern noted in yesterday's Daily News, Temple already has enough motivation for revenge against UConn because of the close games the two programs have played in recent years. But it so happens that the Huskies are a dark horse to do very well in the Big East this season. Pitt is the favorite to win the conference, but UConn has a favorable schedule that includes the Panthers, West Virginia and Cincinnati all at home. Those were the three teams picked above the Huskies in the preseason poll.

Connecticut's toughest road game of the season probably already happened: at Michigan on the season's opening weekend. That the result was a 30-10 thumping certainly dented UConn's prestige, but that game will be well off in the rear view mirror when conference play begins.

Temple, meanwhile, seems to be in high spirits. The Owls are 2-0 for the first time since 1981, and even though both wins were close they were wins nonetheless. A win Saturday would the record 3-0 for the first time in 31 years. It will be an upset if it happens, but it's certainly possible.

Here's the real discussion topic, though. If Temple wins, will it have any effect on the discussions of Big East football expansion? I know quite a few Owls fans who have watched the Villanova discussions from afar, quietly seething about the fact that their program hasn't even gotten a whiff of attention from the Big East.

That wouldn't change with just one game, but you can make a very easy case that Temple is much more ready to change conferences than Villanova. The Owls already have a big enough stadium in Lincoln Financial Field. And though neither they nor the Wildcats draw big crowds for football, at least Temple has a bigger potential fan base from its student body and alumni.

So let's stir the pot a little bit. Which team do you think would be a better fit in Big East football, Temple or Villanova? Share your thoughts in the comments.

There are quite a few other notable games this weekend involving local teams. Penn State hosts Kent State, Villanova plays its home opener against Towson, and Penn plays its season opener against Lafayette at Franklin Field.

As we get ready for tomorrow, here's a look at the latest Sagarin ratings. The numbers in parentheses are the ratings for each of the previous weeks in the season. So for example, Penn State is ranked this week, was ranked 24th last week and was ranked 10th the week before that. Each week, the string of numbers in parentheses will expand, so that we can track each team's ranking over the course of the season.

27. Penn State (24-10)
57. Rutgers (39-60)
60. Temple (59-99)
65. Delaware (106-112)
71. Villanova (104-64)
128. Penn (130-135)
168. Lehigh (143-146)
220. Lafayette (141-156)
187. Princeton (189-187)
222. Delaware State (220-204)
235. Bucknell (230-213)

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Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

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