George Washington could not have crossed the Delaware to such lopsided results. This game had such an inauspicious start, with Rutgers unable to stop stumbling over its own two feet, and being very fortunately to only trail 10-0 at halftime after a dominant Temple first half. They let Rutgers hang around though by failing to go for the jugular early, and in the process, taught the Knights a thing or two about how to truly put away opponents. If Rutgers had designs of winning this one with a conservative, mistake-free gameplan, that went out the window with them opening up the second half down ten. Rutgers was forced to start taking shots, and lo and behold, it worked.
Shocker of shockers, throwing intermediate passes to Tim Wright worked like a charm against USF and Arkansas. Their disappearance led to the offense being stuck in the mud for two weeks, and with Rutgers's back against the wall early, it was no coincidence that their early season staple once again was the key to victory. Look, Rutgers fans are happy to win big and thrilled to be 7-0. This could have easily been a monster letdown game, and almost was if there had been a few more bad breaks in the first half, like if Temple had scored after the fumble. However, the second half was clearly illustrative of what this team is capable of in offense if they are just willing to place with a sense of urgency and their foot on the gas.
They needed a kick in the teeth to find that inner spark again, but there's no reason why RU could not have run Syracuse and especially UConn off the field in a similar matter the past two weeks. You can argue back and forth about the virtues of keeping a second gear in reserve. If you keep having to go down to the well and eventually have nothing left, that's understandable. But week in and week out, only taking risks when the team absolutely had to was bound to come back and bite the Knights eventually, and there was a decent chance of that happening today. It did not, and you know Rutgers won't take many chances with Kent State and Army. That last three game stretch though, they better, and you have to worry about the lack of flashy wins coming back to hurt the program come bowl selection time.
Temple got out to its early lead behind the strength of a tough running game. Montel Harris returned recently from an injury and certainly seemed to be rounding into form. Chris Coyer isn't much of a passer, and as absurd as the Tim Tebow comparisons were overall, you certainly understood them as a runner at least. They were just running over Rutgers in the first half, but RU was able to get a few critical stops, and played with a far higher level of intensity in the second at all levels. The rush returned, the tackling was better, and the coverage improved. There was that, and Temple immolating in a flurry of turnovers, which of course tends to happen when the Rutgers defense is involved. The yardage disparity between the halves was just startling, and that wasn't all RU finally getting something going on offense (and hence eating clock) in the second after zilch in the first. It's challenging to recall such a stark disparity between halves with this program.
The play calling was driving everyone up a wall in the first half, with the same predictable ineffectiveness from the Syracuse and UConn games. Run up the middle, WR screen, and then a bomb downfield that doesn't connect. Quron Pratt dropped what should have been an easy catch on a slant, and then the play disappeared from the offense. Then, all of a sudden, Jawan Jamison took things over with a few big runs in the early second half. That drew some help into the box, freeing up things downfield for Gary Nova to find Tim Wright. They connected on a pretty touchdown where Wright was wide open, and then it was suddenly off to the races, with Rutgers connecting at will on drive after drive. The poised, mature Nova from USF and Arkansas had returned, and the Temple threat quickly faded with a succession of quick strike touchdowns.
Give Temple credit for showing up early and really taking it to RU, but you could see Rutgers flip the switch as soon as the third quarter started, and this turned into a completely different game. They folded about as fast as anyone we've seen since, let's say those two Syracuse games in 2007 and 2008 where Rutgers spotted Cuse a few touchdowns almost as a gift of charity. Now Rutgers is 7-0 with a solid bit of momentum again after a big win, and is staring 9-0 in the face in a few weeks after likely win over Kent State (good for the MAC, but lost to an awful Kentucky team), a bye, and a certain win against Army, both at home. This team is not going to be seriously challenged again until a month from now against the Bearcats (who unfortunately were tripped up by Toledo on Saturday) in Nippert Stadium.
- What a great showing by Rutgers fans traveling down the Turnpike today. Rutgers definitely outdrew Temple. it was no 40k to MetLife, but 20k on the road even in our backyard is a very impressive number.
- The NCAA needs to eliminate the fifteen yard penalty for not ceasing play when losing a helmet yesterday. In the heat of the moment, all players are going to think about is the play at hand. That rule was jarring and unjust.
- There were definitely a few missed calls on both sides that couldn't be overturned due to lacking replay angles.
- Temple's punter was something else today. Him and Justin Doerner benefited from some good bounces.
- Leonte Carroo's blocked punt really helped swing the momentum fully towards Rutgers. It was over for good after the Jamal Merrell (he sure has been great) sack and fumble, which Khaseem Greene returned for a touchdown.
- The referees had little interest in calling defensive pass interference on anyone despite a few blatant cases.