Short on rivals, Big East looks to Rutgers-Temple

Short on rivals, Big East looks to Rutgers-Temple

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Who would have predicted that Rutgers at Temple would end up being this season's first marquee football matchup in the Big East?

A larger-than-normal college crowd is expected in Philadelphia on Saturday when the Owls (3-2, 2-0) host the No. 19 Scarlet Knights (6-0, 3-0) for a share of first place in the conference. And while it may not be Florida-LSU, it could be an important game for this conference and region.

``I think it's real important,'' Temple coach Steve Addazio said. ``We're going to represent Northeast and Big East football. ``

That seems a bit ironic for a program reinstated to the Big East this season after being evicted in 2004 due to poor attendance, bad facilities and failing to field a competitive team.

But the Big East needs a rivalry or two to develop as it struggles through realignment. The departure of West Virginia for the Big 12, and pending departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC will leave both the region and the league without a lot contests with regional cache.

The ``Backyard Brawl'' between the Panthers and Mountaineers will not be played this season for the first time in 70 years. And by the time conference expansion is complete in 2015, the only Big East football teams left in the Mid-Atlantic and New England will be UConn, Rutgers, Temple, and Navy.

Syracuse had its final scheduled game with Rutgers last week, and the Orange host UConn one more time on Friday.

``I always believed in northeastern football,'' Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. ``When we were playing here and Pitt, Penn State, Syracuse, West Virginia was in there, there was a lot of good football going on. When I was growing up, that's what I thought about and that was what I always would have liked to see happen.

``But it didn't, and you move on.''

The loss of regional rivalries also disappoints Paul Pasqualoni, whose first trip back to the Carrier Dome with the Huskies Friday may also be his last.

``It's fan friendly,'' he said. ``The kids all know each other. Recruiting, it becomes more intense, all of those things. For me personally, I think football in the Northeast loses a little bit when we lose people like Syracuse, Boston College and Pitt.''

There will be other big games in the Big East this season. The league's three undefeated teams have yet to meet. No. 16 Louisville hosts No. 21 Cincinnati in their rivalry game a week from Friday. Cincinnati hosts Rutgers on Nov. 17. And Louisville visits Rutgers on Nov. 29.

But the resumption of Rutgers-Temple, a series between two northeastern schools in two big media markets, with a lot on the line, could be just what the conference is looking for.

``It think college football is at its best when it's regional,'' Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. ``Temple is exciting for us to have in the conference, because it's a regional game. And it's a game that regardless of who the home team is, the other team's fan base can drive to the game that day and be a part of the gameday atmosphere an cheer their players on.''

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RGIII plays the final minutes of Ravens' OT loss to Chiefs

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RGIII plays the final minutes of Ravens' OT loss to Chiefs

With the Baltimore Ravens needing to get in field goal position to stay alive in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs, it wasn’t Joe Flacco or Lamar Jackson under center with the game on the line on third and 22. 

It was Robert Griffin, III. 

It was the second straight week Griffin has had to step in for relief for Jackson following an injury. A hit on Jackson by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston sidelined the Ravens’ rookie, forcing Griffin to come in at a less-than-ideal time. 

Griffin had no time to work his way into a rhythm or pass time until Jackson potentially returned. His first pass attempt to John  Brown was nearly picked off and his second pass to Willie Snead was incomplete. Following the game, several Ravens players -- including Griffin -- felt Chiefs defensive back Kendall Fuller interfered with the play. 

Moving forward, the Ravens find themselves in a dilemma. If healthy, stick with the young Jackson who won three games in a row and was in the game against the class of the AFC, albeit limited in the passing game, give Griffin a shot who gives the team more options in the passing game or go back to the veteran Flacco for the stretch run of the playoffs. 

At 7-6, the Ravens are holding on to the final playoff spot by the slimmest of margins. Head coach John Harbaugh has an important decision to make before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town next week. 


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The Ravens lost to the Chiefs, but it was beautiful chaos nonetheless

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The Ravens lost to the Chiefs, but it was beautiful chaos nonetheless

A lot of times, when somebody says “that game really had it all” it’s not entirely accurate. What they usually mean is “wow, that game had multiple exciting moments.”

Well, today, I actually mean it. The Ravens' loss to the Chiefs really did have it all.

-- There was so much going on, actually, that it will be very easy to overlook several wild moments.

-- There was Lamar Jackson’s beautiful 21-yard rush during an 8-play, zero-pass touchdown drive from the Ravens to tie the game at 7-7.

-- There was Harrison Butker’s 51-yard field goal attempt going wide right to keep the game tied.

-- There was Patrick Mahomes hitting Travis Kelce in the end zone, a combination the Ravens struggled to contain all afternoon.

-- There was the Ravens failing to convert a short 4th-down conversion after an unfavorable spot from the officials, and Mahomes giving the ball back three plays later on the Ravens’ first interception in 293 pass attempts (longest drought in team history).

-- There was the Ravens not hesitating to go for another 4th-down conversion, this time capping a 14-play drive with a touchdown pass to Maxx Williams.

-- There was Patrick Mahomes completing a no-look pass

Allow me to repeat. In football, not basketball, he completed a NO-LOOK PASS.

-- There was a phantom offensive pass interference call against Michael Crabtree to derail a potential 4th quarter go-ahead drive.

-- There was offsetting penalties on a punt attempt, and Baltimore-native Cyrus Jones returning the second-chance punt 55 yards deep into Kansas City territory to set up another touchdown.

-- There was Patrick Mahomes flinging up a prayer on 4th-and-9 for a 48-yard completion to Tyreek Hill, keeping hope alive for the Chiefs.

-- There was the Chiefs’ own 4th-down touchdown completion, this one to tie the game at 24-24.

-- There was a Lamar Jackson fumble to seemingly give the victory to the Chiefs, followed by a second Butker miss to send the game to overtime.

-- There was Mahomes fumbling the ball away untouched, only for Terrell Suggs to overrun it and the Chiefs to recover.

-- There was Lamar Jackson leaving the game with an injury, and Robert Griffin III coming in on 3rd-and-22 near midfield. 

-- There was a perfect throw from RGIII on 4th-and-22 that grazed off Willie Snead’s fingertips as Kendall Fuller wrapped him up a second early with no call to seal the devastating loss.

Like so many games and seasons before, the Ravens were just one play short of getting over the hump. Even entering the game as heavy underdogs, it’s hard to feel satisfied with a “good loss” or a “moral victory” at this point in the season. Not only are the Ravens hoping to stay alive in the AFC North, but there’s now a 4-way tie among 7-6 teams fighting for the AFC’s 6-seed.

The Ravens currently hold the tiebreaker, but face a tough schedule the rest of the way and now have zero room for error.

Ultimately, it was a terrific performance by the defense for 56 minutes, before looking gassed at the end of the game. It’s no coincidence that the first time the defense has failed to close the game late in the 4th quarter during the Lamar Jackson Era is also the first time the Ravens have lost the time of possession battle.

It was especially frustrating for John Harbaugh to see so many borderline calls go in favor of the Chiefs. Baltimore was called for 11 penalties for a whopping 112 yards, many coming on calls described by the broadcast as “ticky-tack” or “weak” or just plain “ehhhhhhhh.”

Nobody ever gives sympathy to the team complaining about the refs, but it makes a tough loss that much tougher. It’s more difficult to swallow a loss when the refs swallow their whistles.

There’s a lot to be encouraged by if you’re a Ravens fan. The moment wasn’t too big for Jackson, and the defense did as well as any defense has to try to defend Mahomes this season. 

There won’t be a ton of solace to take if they wind up on the outside looking in come January, though. Every game from here on out is critically important, and hopefully, the Ravens can finish more strongly against competition that isn’t as talented and downright scary as the 2018 Chiefs.