The September 2nd Thursday evening meeting between the Scarlet Knights and Temple will mark the 37th time the two teams have met dating back to 1948. Rutgers holds a 20-16 advantage over the years. The last time the teams met was on November 2, 2013, when Rutgers pulled out a 23-20 victory.
From 1991 through 2004, both programs were part of the Big East Conference at the same time. For Temple the affiliation in the Big East was not without its bumps in the road. Temple exited the Big East in 2004 after originally being voted out of the conference in 2001 due to a lack of competitiveness on the field and funding off the field. Temple’s football program rejoined the Big East 2012.
On July 1, 2013, the non-football playing schools retained the Big East Conference name resulting in both Rutgers and Temple joining with four schools from other conferences to become the American Athletic Conference. (AAC). The AAC retained the Big East’s rights to an automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series. In 2014, Rutgers began play in the Big Ten and the rivalry has since been on a hiatus.
Rutgers was scheduled to play Temple last year but it was cancelled due to the Big Ten’s decision to play a conference only schedule. Moving forward, the Scarlet Knights are beginning to renew regional rivalries that marked the program’s time in the Big East. In addition to Temple, Rutgers will play Syracuse this season and is scheduled to play Boston College during the 2022 season after meeting in 2019.
Regional rivalries also bring into focus recruiting. The move to the Big Ten and the rehiring of Greg Schiano has decidedly moved the needle for Rutgers in this area while Temple has struggled.
During the Big East and AAC days, Temple won several recruiting battles particularly in South Jersey. Early on, there was a battle for the services of Dan Klecko, the son of former New York Jets Pro Bowler Joe Klecko. The younger Klecko was a freshman All-American and Big East Defensive Player of the Year at Temple. He went on to win two Super Bowls with the Patriots and won another Super Bowl with the Colts in 2006.
In 2013, the last time Rutgers and Temple met on the field, the Owls beat out Rutgers for commitments from Williamstown linebacker Buddy Brown and Elizabeth quarterback P.J. Walker. In all, ten of Temple’s twenty-one commitments that year came from the Garden State.
In December 2016, Matt Rhule took the job at Baylor and brought Fran Brown with him. With the departure of Rhule and Brown, success in recruiting talent in the southern part of the state declined for Temple. The recruitment scale really changed with the return of Schiano to Rutgers and subsequent hiring of Fran Brown on December 7, 2019.
Last season, Temple had their first losing season in seven years. With Temple having a down season on the field, three Owl players decided to transfer to the Banks with Christian Braswell, David Nwaogwugwu, and Ifeanyi Maijeh all becoming Scarlet Knights.
Presently, Rutgers has made strong in-roads into South Jersey on the recruiting trail and the current roster reflects that.
It used to be that Rutgers would be happy to just beat Temple for the fertile recruiting grounds of South Jersey. Today, Rutgers is beginning to beat Penn State and other major programs on the recruiting trail. The days of the Power Five teams cherry picking the southern part of the state appear to be over.