With the Rutgers football team sitting atop the standings in the Big East after six weeks of football, there might be a bit of a rivalry budding between the Scarlet Knights and regional rival Temple, as they prepare to face off in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
Just 65 miles apart, the Owls (2-0, 3-2) often overlap their recruiting efforts. The Scarlet Knights (3-0, 6-0) have been winning that competition in recent years.
This weekend though is a major opportunity for the Temple program, as they try to shake the stigma of a second-class program going through their consistent share of troubles.
Fresh off a 17-14 overtime victory over Connecticut last week, the Owls boast a strong running game, paced by senior Montel Harris, who holds the current record for 100-yard games among active players. Saturday's 124-yard, one touchdown performance, was Harris' 24th career 100-yard game.
"He certainly is an established player and has continued to do that," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said of the first-year Temple standout, who played three years at Boston College where he set the record for all-time rushing yards.
"In this offense because there are elements of option in the offense, you know, it creates one-on-ones for a guy like him and he's a make-you-miss back, much like the one we have," Flood added.
The senior's strong performance over the past five weeks of Temple's schedule have pushed the Owls to 50th among all teams in regards to rushing yards, averaging just over 176 yards every game.
More than Harris' performance on Saturday afternoon, the Owls found success and an undefeated league record, thanks to a major defensive stand.
Freshman linebacker Tyler Matakeich, who marked a game-high 19 tackles, posted his second straight game with double-digit take downs after recording 15 against USF in the game prior.
The Owls also posted their second straight game with a blocked fourth quarter field goal to secure a victory, a stat that doesn't always make the headlines, but one that has helped Temple secure their undefeated league victory.
With the status of Scarlet Knights kicker Kyle Federico still up in the air as of mid-week, the somewhat under-appreciated stat becomes all the more important in Rutgers game plan.
Following last week's victory, Temple stands at 43rd in the nation in points allowed per game, averaging 22.4 every time they take the field.
Saturday's matchup, with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field, offers Temple a major opportunity to seriously shake up the Big East standings, as well as a chance to boast their first victory over the Scarlet Knights since 2004 in a growing local rivalry.