Place: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Unbeaten Rutgers continues to ride a talented, ball-hawking defense as it starts the second half of the regular season at improving Temple on Saturday. The No. 17 Scarlet Knights have forced 17 turnovers, including 12 on interceptions, and blocked four kicks.
Rutgers is also second in the nation in rushing defense and it will get a challenge from Montel Harris and the Owls. The Boston College transfer registered 275 yards in the last two weeks in a pair of league victories. Rutgers can run the ball as well with Jawan Jamison, and quarterback Gary Nova has 11 touchdown passes with only two interceptions.
One of the reasons for Nova’s efficiency is an experienced offensive line that has allowed only three sacks. Temple, 10th in the nation with 3.2 sacks per contest, will test that unit.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-0, 3-0 Big East): The Scarlet Knights can win seven straight to start a season for only the third time since 1976 and the fifth time in the program’s 143 years. Rutgers is allowing 11.5 points per contest and has held opponents to only 60.8 yards rushing.
Linebacker Khaseem Greene, the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Week, leads the way with 10.5 tackles per game. Jamison saw his six-game streak of 100-yard rushing games end in the 23-15 win over Syracuse last Saturday, but leads the league with 665 yards. Brandon Coleman (five touchdowns), Tim Wright and Mark Harrison (three) all have at least 210 yards receiving.
Temple Owls (3-2, 2-0 Big East): The Owls returned to the Big East in grand fashion with victories over South Florida and Connecticut and now face Rutgers for the first time since 2004. Harris has rushed for more than 4,000 career yards and could carry most of the load with Matt Brown day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Brown rushed for 145 yards in the season opener. Temple, ranking 116th in passing offense, will have to get more done through the air in the second half of the schedule. Quarterback Chris Coyer has thrown only two interceptions, but has totaled only 662 yards passing. He has rushed for 302.
1. Harris has rushed for 100 yards in 24 career games, more than any other active Division I player.
2. Rutgers has outscored opponents 48-3 in the third quarter.
3. Temple can equal the amount of Big East victories it had in its last three years in the conference (2002-04).