NCAA

Penn State awaits word on key pieces as No. 2 Ohio State looms

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Penn State awaits word on key pieces as No. 2 Ohio State looms

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Coming off their biggest win under head coach James Franklin with some extra rest, Penn State players have had plenty of time to contemplate their looming game against No. 2 Ohio State.

During the open weekend, they watched as Wisconsin nearly toppled the Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) on Saturday. But the Nittany Lions will need to use their own approach to stop Ohio State's fourth-ranked scoring offense backed by the third-ranked scoring defense in the nation.

"Wisconsin played them extremely well," Franklin said. "But they are traditional pro-style, pound-you offense and then their defense is playing so well that it allows them to play that and not have to drop back and throw the ball and do things like that. Obviously that's a different style than we're playing right now. So that film for our offense isn't overly valuable."

Penn State's offense has improved and the running game was explosive with 372 yards against Maryland, but Ohio State has been consistently great nearly all season. With quarterback J.T. Barrett leading the way, the Buckeyes are averaging more than 516 yards of offense, 300 yards on the ground.

It's not a favorable matchup for the Nittany Lions who are still unsure if starting linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell will play. They've missed the last five and four games, respectively, and as of Tuesday had not been cleared to practice. Franklin did say veteran players who require less practice can be cleared later in the week, however.

"We know they are important to this team," cornerback Grant Haley said. "They have a lot of experience that they bring to the table."

Getting Bell and Cabinda back would be big boosts. They both helped limit Ohio State's offense the last time the teams met at Beaver Stadium. That 31-24 loss in double overtime was the closest Penn State's come to beating Ohio State in the 11 years since the Nittany Lions' last home win in the series. Penn State is 0-4 since they won a memorable game where fans stormed the field in 2005.

Since that game, Penn State has gone 11-25 against Top 25 teams and 0-9 against top 5 teams. Four of those losses to top 5 teams have come to Ohio State.

"They know this is a big game," Franklin said. "We don't need to tell them that. They understand how big this game is. They see it all over social media and everything else and walking around town and on campus and from their families and ticket requests and all those things. They get it."

By Tuesday afternoon, students who camp outside their entrance to the stadium had tents set up nearly to the road, another indication of the game's gravitas. It prompted Franklin to mention the game's atmosphere and expressed his desire for fans to show up and be heard.

Urban Meyer quipped earlier this week about the planned white-out, where everyone in the 106,572-seat complex wears white.

"We have another tough task, a team that's 4-0 at home," Meyer said. "I called it -- the last two times, wish they saved the white outs for other games, but I guess they used it for our game. It's one of the top five atmospheres, again, in college football."

Haley has felt the ground rumble with white-out crowds in the past. He and his teammates will try to maintain the pulse at their feet by slowing the Buckeyes' rushing attack and disrupting Barrett's time to extend plays with his feet.

"We need to make them a one-dimensional team," Haley said. "We obviously need to stop the run, quarterback runs, especially."

Sliding Temple visits Army; Penn hosts Yale in need of Ivy win

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Sliding Temple visits Army; Penn hosts Yale in need of Ivy win

Temple (3-4, 1-3 AAC) at Army (5-2)
Michie Stadium, West Point, New York
Saturday, noon, CBS Sports Network

Last time out
Temple lost to UConn, 28-24, last Saturday.

Army beat Eastern Michigan, 28-27, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week against UConn, the Owls committed 12 penalties for 117 yards. Despite putting up 229 more yards and 13 more first downs than the Huskies, Temple couldn’t finish drives late in the game to pull out the win.

Temple’s schedule doesn’t get easier this week. The Owls play an Army team riding a three-game win streak and boasting the second-best rushing offense in college football (378.4 ypg). That will be the matchup to watch as Temple averages 167.1 rushing yards allowed per game, good for seventh in the American Athletic Conference.

Temple’s starting quarterback Logan Marchi missed some practice time this week, but head coach Geoff Collins said he expects him to play Saturday. If he can’t go, look for backup Frank Nutile to replace him.

What it means
Temple’s performance against UConn was embarrassing, while the Owls' bowl hopes would take a severe hit with a loss to Army. Tulsa and Cincinnati are the only other opponents on the schedule against which Temple should be favored. Navy and UCF, on paper, look to be tough matchups for the Owls.

Series history
Temple owns the 7-5 series advantage and is 6-1 against Army since 2008. That one loss came last year when the Black Knights beat the Owls, 28-13, at Lincoln Financial Field in Temple’s season opener. 

What's next?
Temple has its bye before hosting Navy on Nov. 2.

Army travels to Air Force. 

Penn (2-3, 0-2 Ivy) vs. Yale (4-1, 1-1 Ivy)
Franklin Field
Saturday, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia+


Last time out
Penn lost at Columbia in overtime, 34-31, last Saturday.

Yale defeated Holy Cross, 32-0, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn has the worst scoring defense in the Ivy League, which doesn’t bode well for its chances in this one considering Yale has the best scoring offense in the league. The Quakers allow 32.6 ppg and the Bulldogs score 41 ppg. Penn’s total defense is also last in the league, allowing 449.2 ypg.

The Bulldogs take control on the ground with the best rushing offense in the Ivy. Zane Dudek and Deshawn Salter lead the Bulldogs, as both have rushed for more than 400 yards and each has seven touchdowns. Penn will have to win the battle in the trenches to slow down the Bulldogs.

Series history
This is the 84th meeting between the teams. The Bulldogs hold a 46-37-1 advantage but Penn has won 19 of the last 25.

What’s next?
Penn travels to Brown.

Yale hosts Columbia.

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

BOX SCORE

That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.