How To Watch, Stream & Listen
Temple at Rutgers
Where: SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
Kick-off: Saturday, September 4 at 12:01 PM ET
Weather: 79 degrees, mostly sunny with a 2% chance of rain, 5-10 mph winds
TV: BTN with Joe Beninati (play-by-play), Matt McGloin (color), Michelle McMahon (sideline)
Stream: FOX Sports App
Radio: Radio: RWJBarnabas Health Rutgers Sports Network (WCTC 14-50-AM, WOR 710-AM, XM 195, Sirius 134) with Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Eric LeGrand (analyst), Julian Pinnix-Odrick (analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline); WRSU 88.7 FM - Chris Tsakonas & Dennis Geissler
Current Spread: Rutgers -14.5
Series History: Rutgers leads, 21-15; last meeting was in 2013 with Rutgers winning 23-20
Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: Noah Vedral - 136-for-221, 61.5%, 1,253 yards, 9 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
Rushing: Isaih Pacheco - 515 yards on 116 carries, 4.4 ypc, 3 touchdowns
Receiving: Bo Melton - 47 catches for 638 yards, 13.6 ypc, 6 touchdowns
Defense: Olakunle Fatukasi - 101 tackles, Mohamed Toure - 4.5 sacks, Christian Izien - 4 interceptions
Rushing: Tayvon Ruley - 306 yards on 73 carries, 4.2 ypc, 1 touchdown
Receiving: Jaden Blue - 41 catches for 371 yards, 9.0 ypc, 5 touchdowns
Defense: Will Kwenkeu - 49 tackles, Manny Walker - 2 sacks, Elijah Clark - 1 interception
What To Watch For
When Rutgers has the ball
The offensive line for the Scarlet Knights is going to be important during the season-opener. In the first game, the offense is still trying to get their legs underneath them and it could take a series or two — perhaps longer. This is where the offensive line will have to step up and give Vedral and company some time to work.
Temple returns a strong linebacking group led by Will Kwenkeu and George Reid. This will be the best part of the Owls’ defense and Rutgers knows that going in. Despite the strength in the middle, the Scarlet Knights should have enough protection up front to keep Vedral clean. This will allow receivers to work down the field and get open.
This is not to say that Rutgers will light it up on Thursday night but they should generate enough big plays to get the job done. It would not be surprising to see Rutgers get into the 30s and ultimately, it should be expected.
There is a sense that Temple is not going to be as poor as the 1-6 team we saw a year ago but in game one, the Owls’ newcomers should have trouble getting on the same page. Rutgers returns a ton of production on the offensive side of the ball which is a huge bonus. Just like any other game, if Rutgers can take care of the football, the offense should not struggle to put drives together.
When Temple has the ball
Just like the Scarlet Knights will have to lean on their offensive line a bit, this is the plan for Temple as well. The Owls return an elite pass-protecting unit up front and that is important with a new quarterback and the amount of transfers coming in.
Anthony Russo is now with Michigan State and Temple will feature D’Wan Mathis under center. Mathis, a former Georgia Bulldog, will bring a new dynamic to the offense and its is one that Greg Schiano knows well. Schiano mentioned how he is familiar with Mathis from recruiting when he was coaching at Ohio State.
“I know him as a high school player, I've seen him in Georgia tape,” Schiano said during Monday’s press conference. “I know he's a really good player. He's athletic, he's tall, he can throw the ball, he can run. He provides a lot of challenges.”
Temple will enter this game with a threat under center and some talented wide receivers, such as Jaden Blue and Randle Jones. Blue led the Owls in receiving during the 2020 season. It is still a new group and some hiccups should be expected. Rutgers is a team that can create turnovers defensively and that could show up in this one.
This battle will come down to how effective Temple is at blocking the Scarlet Knights. If they struggle, Rutgers could come away with a few turnovers and take control early. Temple will have to get Mathis out on the edge and use speed to cause a bit of havoc.
Could Rutgers win this game?
We have said before that nothing should be penciled in for the Scarlet Knights just yet. With that being said, Rutgers is a two-touchdown favorite in this game and should come out on top. Is it a guarantee? No, but certainly a large majority should be riding the Scarlet Knights here. It would be a huge disappointment to see Temple celebrating at the end of this one.
“It’s gonna be fun. I mean, we’re gonna have to keep our emotions in check because it’s going to be exciting,” Schiano said. “My guys are constantly monitoring the weather and giving me reports. Initially it was ‘it’s gonna be nice.’ Now it’s iffy. I said ‘I don’t care. Our fans will be there. I know they will. I know our team will be ready to go and our fans will be ready to go.’ SHI stadium has to be home field advantage. It wasn’t last year, we’re not gonna hide from that. We didn’t do well in our home stadium. We need to change that this year.”
Schiano said it right. SHI Stadium will be packed and fans will be able to cheer on their Scarlet Knights for the first time since 2019 and the first time in Schiano’s second tenure. Even the weather is beginning to clear up and should be just fine for game time — knock on wood.
If you are going to be in the building, enjoy it. If you are watching from home, enjoy it. Football is back and this is the beginning of what should be an exciting and relatively competitive season for Rutgers. Either way, Week 1 features an extremely winnable game with two more coming up before the Big Ten schedule begins.