Penn State recorded its first victory of the Bill O'Brien era by routing Navy last weekend. The Nittany Lions will look to build off that performance on Saturday against Temple, which is coming off a bye week after a loss to Maryland.
Matt McGloin was the star in Penn State's win over the Midshipmen. The senior quarterback threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns. He's now thrown eight TD passes in three games, matching his total from all of last season.
Saturday's game will mark the first road test of the season for Temple. After beating Villanova in its opener, the Owls were unable to complete a late comeback attempt against Maryland two weeks ago. They should be rested after the bye week.
Here's a look at all the key information for the game followed by watch to watch for as the Nittany Lions and Owls battle.
Where: Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.
When: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Watch: ABC or ESPN2 (regional) and ESPN3.com
Listen: WPHT 1210 AM (Temple) or WQWK 1450 AM (Penn State)
Betting Line: Penn State -9 (Vegas Insider)
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Temple: Montel Harris (questionable, hamstring)
Penn State: Donovan Smith (probable, leg), Derek Day (questionable, shoulder) and Bill Belton (questionable, ankle)
Key Storyline: Can Penn State recover from its slow start?
After a tumultuous offseason, it wasn't a major surprise to see Penn State start the season a little flat. From players leaving the program to the constant national attention, getting distracted from the task at hand is quite easy.
Add in tough matchups against a potent Ohio squad and on the road against Virginia, and the Nittany Lions just couldn't get off on the right foot. They were able to right the ship by beating Navy, however, and now have a chance to turn things around.
Beating Temple in a game that will be nationally televised would provide a big boost to Penn State, which still has a couple marquee games left on the schedule.
Losses in the early going means neither of these teams are on the Top-25 radar right now. It would take an extended winning streak, including wins over the ranked teams on their respective schedules, in order for either side to crack the rankings.
What They Are Saying
Temple head coach Steve Addazio knows his team faces a tough challenge even though Penn State has struggled at times so far, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"We are always the underdogs [to Penn State] and are the underdog," Addazio said. "It's a great opportunity for us to get in there and do the best we can against a great football team, take our shots and play real hard."
Genaro Armas of the Associated Press passed along thoughts from O'Brien, who knows his team is dealing with a lot of issues, but continues to talk positively.
"Like I've said from Day 1, there's nothing any of us can do about the NCAA. All we can do is play under the rules in which they say to play under," O'Brien said. "So that's what we're doing and these kids have really stuck together. This group of players in the locker room right now (is) just really high character kids that have come together."
Temple Player To Watch: Matt Brown
Brown has been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise lackluster Temple offense. He's gained 176 yards on 29 carries, including a 56-yard touchdown run in the opener, showing off his game-breaking ability.
With Montel Harris battling a hamstring injury, Brown figures to play a prominent role in the ground game again on Saturday. The Owls will want to feature a slow-paced, ball-control attack in order to keep the game within striking distance.
Penn State's run defense might be a little worn down after 60 rushing attempts by Navy last week, giving Brown a chance to break off some long runs.
Penn State Player To Watch: Allen Robinson
In recent years, the Penn State player to watch would almost always be the starting running back. The Nittany Lions relied on a ground-and-pound mentality to win games. But things are slowly showing signs of change under O'Brien.
With a more balanced attack in place, wide receivers like Robinson are getting more chances to shine. The dynamic sophomore has made at least five catches in all three games and scored four touchdowns in the process.
He's clearly established himself as McGloin's go-to target and should be in line for another big game against a shaky Temple defense.
Key Matchup: Temple secondary vs. Penn State passing game
If Penn State is going to win its second straight game, McGloin needs to continue to positive progress he has made in the first three weeks. His development and a more open offense gives them a chance to turn things around after the slow start.
On the flip side, if Temple wants to pull off the upset it needs to make the Nittany Lions one-dimensional on offense. The Owls can handle the run, but they have to prove they can slow down the passing attack first.
Even though Temple has a reasonable chance to end its drought against Penn State, McGloin and Co. should do just enough to secure the win.
Penn State 20, Temple 17
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