Game 8 Preview: Nova Gets The Start

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Nova won the so-called open competition, but will he play the entire game?

Suprise, surprise - Gary Nova will start against Temple on Saturday. But how long will his leash be? How many interceptions until Flood inserts Chas Dodd? No offense to Temple, but the Scarlet Knights are lucky to draw Temple when the quarterback situation is in such disarray. How will the rest of the game play out?

The Matchup

How's this for a storyline: P.J. Walker was an under-the-radar quarterback prospect who was recruited by his home state school to play defense. This Saturday, he has a chance to prove the recruiters wrong by pulling off an upset in front of the school's fans. Meanwhile, that same school has a dumpster fire going on at QB, with the position in flux after the incumbent starter had a complete meltdown during Homecoming.

Rutgers is in a precarious situation as it enters Saturday's game at Temple. The team is very vulnerable after getting blown out at home to a high-flying Houston offense after previously laying an egg against Louisville when they had a chance for the upset. Getting schooled by a snubbed QB prospect at home will only make things worse. Temple is by no means an offensive juggernaut, but freshman gunslinger P. J. Walker is making great strides and looks the part of franchise quarterback for the Owls. Considering the Rutgers defense was about as scary as a bunny costume on Halloween night, I doubt Walker and the rest of the offense will be shaking in their cleats.

The Owls still like to run the ball however, which should play right into Kyle Flood's defensive gameplan of stopping the run. Zaire Williams and Kenneth Harper lead the way for Temple, as the two have combined for 841 yards rushing and over 4.5 yards per carry. Williams, a Sicklerville native, has a solid 5.5 yard per carry average heading into Saturday's tilt.

As for Rutgers, Gary Nova will be the starter, but it'll be interesting to see how short of a leash he'll get from Coach Flood. I'll put the over/under on yanking Nova at two turnovers, at which point Dodd will most likely get put in the game. Mike Bimonte was reported to get some reps with the first team offense, but I don't believe he actually has a chance at getting time. If either Nova or Dodd don't produce, then it's a definite possibility that Flood will open the competition even more heading into the bye week, but for now this will most likely be an exhibition for just the two of them.

The Paul James Show will have to wait another week (or two since there is another bye following Saturday), which means Justin Goodwin gets another opportunity to impress the coaches. The true freshman has been a delightful surprise in a season filled with plenty of ups and downs, so if you get frustrated watching the passing game, just take a moment and remember that this kid will be on campus for another two years (at least). Temple is allowing 200 yards rushing per game, so expect Ron Prince to go heavy with Goodwin and Savon Huggins to keep the ball out of the quarterback's hands.

The Prediction

The season is not in a death spiral yet, so don't expect the coaching staff to go all out. In fact, look for the gameplan to get even more conservative to limit mistakes. Since a bowl game is still in the cards, Flood will remain cautious in his journey to get the program's ninth bowl bid. Rutgers wins, 23-10.

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