By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple Owls will travel out to Happy Valley on Saturday as they step out of American Athletic Conference action to visit the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The Owls are coming off a last-second loss to Memphis this past Friday. A Jake Elliot field goal with no time left gave the Tigers a 16-13 decision.
“To be honest, it was a heartbreaking loss,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule tells KYW Newsradio. “To tie it up at the end and to have such a great college football game and just to lose in the final seconds was obviously difficult. But as I told our kids, we’re getting better, we’re hanging in with those teams, that was a really good team that we faced. We just have to make one or two more plays to win those games.”
The loss dropped the Owls to 5-4 this season (3-3 in the AAC).
On Saturday, they will face a Penn State team that is also 5-4 and coming off a 13-7 win over Indiana. That win snapped a 4-game losing streak. The Nittany Lions are led this season by a stout defense that is allowing just 16.6 ppg.
Listen to Matt Rhule with KYW’s Matt Leon
“Coach (Bob) Shoop, their defensive coordinator, has done a great job,” Rhule says. “They’re really multiple, aggressive. They’ve got a tremendous defensive line.”
Offensively, Penn State has been held under 20 points five times this season. But they have a premier talent at quarterback in sophomore Christian Hackenberg.
“He’s just got tremendous, tremendous technique and fundamentals,” Rhule says. “He throws the ball as well as anyone, really, I mean honestly, across the country. He’s just got a great arm. He’s cool and calm in the pocket. He’s been hit a little bit and he just keeps coming back. He’ll stand in and deliver. You can tell that he’s got a tremendous football mind, he always knows where the ball should go.”
This game has to be a little extra special for Rhule who played at Penn State.
“It’s a place that I have a lot of great memories, so I’m excited to go back there,” Rhule says. “Just as importantly, I’m excited for our kids. They came to Temple so that they could not only get a great education, but they could play in games like this. To play in front of that crowd and to play in a big time game like this, that’s exactly what I want for our players.”
Temple and Penn State will kickoff at noon on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.
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