The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are ranked 14th and 11th in the AP and USA Today polls respectively, and the program will look to send a message to college football by beating the Temple Owls in Week 1.
While the Owls are clearly the inferior team—Notre Dame played in the BCS National Championship last season—the Fighting Irish are a shell of the team they were a year ago.
This matchup on paper is one-sided, but it could end up being much more interesting than anticipated.
When: Saturday, August 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind.
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 53, Spread: Notre Dame (-29.5)
This matchup is the ultimate trap game for gamblers. While on paper this looks like a horribly one-sided mismatch, Notre Dame has lost several key players this offseason and will not pose the same threat.
Add in former NFL offensive line coach Matt Rhule as the team's new head coach, and Temple should be much better. Take the under as defense should reign supreme and take Temple with an outlandish 30 point spread.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Scott Roorda, OL , Out for Season (back)
Will Mahone, RB, Questionable (ankle)
Tony Springmann, DL, Out for season (knee)
Nicky Baratti, S, Out for season (shoulder)
Doug Randolph, LB, Out for season (shoulder)
While the Temple Owls really don’t have a chance to contend for a spot in the top 25—more focused on trying to contend in the AAC—Notre Dame is trying to prove everyone wrong by earning another BCS National Championship appearance. This matchup is all about where the Fighting Irish are as a team after an offseason filled with turnover.
Owls Players to Watch: Connor Reilly and P.J. Walker, QB
The Temple Owls are going back to the drawing board this season in terms of which player is under center, and the final battle has come down to junior Connor Reilly and freshman P.J. Walker, according to John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Reilly and Walker have both taken snaps with the first team and each has impressed the coaching staff at times during training camp. Just as many other coaches are doing nowadays, don’t expect Temple to name the starter before the game on Saturday.
While Walker has the brighter future for the Owls, Reilly will likely get the start to open the season. The coaching staff will keep him on a short leash, though, and if the junior slips up, expect Walker to get his chance to shine in game action.
Fighting Irish Player to Watch: Tommy Rees, QB
Notre Dame will lean on senior quarterback Tommy Rees heavily this year after 2012 starter Everett Golson was removed from the team this offseason. Rees must prove his inconsistency is a thing of the past if he wants to lead the team to a stellar season.
The task won’t be easy, as Rees will be forced to deal with a whole new batch of offensive stars.
With the departures of running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood and tight end Tyler Eifert on offense—added to the loss of team leader Manti Te’o on defense—there is little doubt that Rees and the Irish will struggle to make an impact this season.
Notre Dame is in trouble.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Temple 10
There is no question that the Notre Dame roster has more talent with more big game experience, but with this being viewed as an easy Week 1 matchup, fans shouldn’t expect the Irish to be sharp. Temple will lose the game, but the team will give Notre Dame a fight it didn’t expect.