Rutgers football hosts Temple on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at SHI Stadium with the game airing on the Big Ten Network. Here are four things that we predict will happen on Sunday.
Ian Strong is a priority in the pass game
The true freshman was only targeted just twice in his collegiate debut against Northwestern. He made the most of his opportunities in catching a tremendous touchdown that was Sportcenter’s top play from Sunday. He also made a diving catch off a tip to total 24 yards. You can watch both here. Strong had the highest receiving grade for Rutgers at 81.6 per PFF. His potential was on full display and it seems very likely offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will make Strong more of a focal point on Saturday against Temple. Strong played just 16 snaps in the season opener. Expect him on the field more than that Saturday night.
The Temple offense will annoy you
EJ Warner threw 49 passes in the season opener in a come from behind win over Akron. However, he averaged just over six yards an attempt and 10 yards a completion. Temple uses Edward Saydee out of the backfield on short routes and he caught two touchdowns last week. They also have Amad Anderson Jr. in the slot and he was targeted seven times, catching four passes for 65 yards. Dante Wright is a speedy, versatile receiver who transferred in from Colorado State.
Last season, Temple used the short passing game methodically against Rutgers. The Owls averaged under 2 yards per rush but had the ball almost 29 minutes in the game. They’ll likely look to do so again to eat up time of possession and counter Rutgers. I’m confident it won’t be as effective if the defense is more physical and aggressive than they were last season. Either way, expect to get annoyed at some point with the Owls are driving down the field on 5-7 yard pass plays.
A Linebacker INT
With the way that Temple approaches the pass game and Rutgers being more prepared this time around, I think defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak will have the awareness of the linebackers on high alert. I spoke about the need for Rutgers to be more physical in this game, but I also think the defense will be more aggressive to counter some some of the deliberate passing of Temple. Deion Jennings and Tyreem Powell are both very good in pass coverage. This feels like a game to me where one of them jumps a route, grabs a deflection or takes it away by sheer will.
The Final Score Will Be….
Rutgers has the opportunity to build on a solid season opening win with another fundamentally sound performance against Temple. Limiting turnovers and penalties are the key to controlling the clock and the game. They did that so well against Northwestern, with zero offensive turnovers and just two penalties as a team. Despite it being a short week for RU, expect them to physically dominate on both sides of the ball. Even if the running back room remains short handed, Kyle Monangai and Ja’shon Benjamin are capable of effectively grinding things out on the ground. Gavin Wimsatt needs to play within himself and look for him to be effective with his legs as well. Temple will throw it a ton and have a few moments, but ultimately Rutgers wears down the Owls late for a comfortable victory.
Rutgers 27 Temple 14
One More Thing
Don’t expect a blowout though, especially if Rutgers has a solid lead in the first half. Greg Schiano will want to slow the game down, run the play clock and grind out another victory without using the entire playbook.
2023 Prediction Record
1-0 overall; 0-0-1 ATS
I pushed last week in predicting Rutgers would beat Northwestern 20-14 and the spread dropping down to six on game day.
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