Addazzio will need to eat his spinach to win this one.
Rutgers and Temple meet for the 35th time in series history Saturday. Rutgers holds the edge in wins, 19-15, and won 16-6 in their last meeting. The two schools played every season from 1977-2004 but have not met since Temple’s departure from the Big East conference following the 2004 season.
Rutgers is one of 12 remaining undefeated FBS teams, including three from the Big East (along with Cincinnati and Louisville). They come off a 23-15 win at home against Syracuse last week.
Rutgers is the only team in the nation to be ranked in the top three nationally in rushing defense, rushing touchdowns allowed and yards per carry rushing defense. The Scarlet Knights are allowing less than 61 rushing yards per game on average. The defense has not allowed an opposing player to rush for 100 yards in 10 straight games, since November 5, 2011.
Linebacker Khaseem Greene picked up right where he left off after being named the 2011 Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year. The senior had 141 tackles last year after switching from the secondary to linebacker. Greene has 63 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and six hurries so far this season.
On offense, Rutgers relies on three players. Quarterback Gary Nova has completed 106 of 174-passing attempts, with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. He averages 211 passing yards per game. Running back Jawan Jamison has averaged 4.2 yards per carry, netting 665 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Brandon Coleman has averaged more than 63 receiving yards per game, with 5 touchdowns on the 2012 season.
Temple won their second consecutive conference game for the first time in their Big East history with a come-from-behind 17-14 overtime win on the road against UConn last Saturday.
Temple is ranked among the nation’s Top 25 in four categories, including No. 10 sacks (3.20), No. 12 in turnover margin (1.20), No. 19 net punting (40.50), and No. 24 punt returns (12.91).
Running back Montel Harris is the Owls’ top rusher with 310 yards and three touchdowns on 69 carries. Jalen Fitzpatrick is the top wide receiver with 12 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Chris Coyer is 54 for 101 in passing attempts. He has thrown for 662 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
Linebacker Nate Smith is the top tackler with 43, including 31 solo tackles and three forced fumbles. Running back Matt Brown is No. 2 in punt returns (20.17) and No. 26 all-purpose running (140.80). Brandon McManus is No. 12 in punting (44.93) and No. 16 in field goals (1.60).
Rutgers has conference victories against USF and UConn. The Owls play with tenacity, but both wins have resulted from the poor performance of their opponents. Rutgers, on the other hand, have played consistently and kept all their opponents constantly on the ropes. Look for Rutgers to win easily in Philly.
Line: Rutgers -5.5
Pick: Rutgers 30-16
Big East Power Rankings:
1. Rutgers (6-0, 3-0) #19
2. Louisville (6-0, 1-0) #16
3. Cincinnati (5-0, 1-0) #21
4. Syracuse (2-4, 1-1)
5. Temple (2-2, 1-0)
6. UConn (3-4, 0-2)
7. Pitt (2-4, 0-3)
8. USF (2-4, 0-2)
Other Big East week eight games:
UConn at Syracuse (-4.5)
USF at Louisville (-6.5)
Cincinnati (-6.5) at Toledo
Pitt (-11) at Buffalo
Big East Week Seven Recap
Louisville 45 at Pitt 35
Syracuse 15 at Rutgers 23
Fordham 17 at Cincinnati 49
Temple 17 at UConn 14
Conference Players of Week Seven:
Offense: Senorise Perry, RB, Louisville
Defense: Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
Special Teams: Brandon McManus, K/P, Temple
Pete Sonski is a contributor to College Football Zealots. Follow him on Twitter @29sonski and check out his work at Big East Coast Bias. and his Three Point Stance show every Tuesday at 9 PM on Blog Talk Radio.