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Analyzing the opponents: Temple and Rutgers

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With Camp Higher Ground only three weeks away and the opener against Pitt approaching on the horizon, the time is now to take a closer look at the teams that will be gracing the 2012 UC football schedule. 

We'll analyze their returning players and the narrative following the teams as they approach the year. Also, I'll rank the opponents from 1-11 and delve into the storylines for each week. Today, we take a look at conference newcomer Temple and the high expectations at Rutgers.


Temple Owls
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Date: Nov. 10
Time: TBA
TV: TBA
Offensive Starters: 2/11
Defensive Starters: 5/11
Specialists: 2/2
Last year: Temple (9-4, 5-3) finished their final year in the MAC outside of the conference championship picture but did fare well enough to earn a win in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Though, the highlight of Temple's season came in the non-conference. They nearly upended Penn State in Philly and took Maryland behind the woodshed in a 38-7 victory.
Player to watch: Chris Coyer. The Owls quarterback showed well over the final month of the season with nine TDs and no picks. He's a dual-threat QB who does a bit of everything, but must do all of it better to make up for losing four of five offensive linemen. He could spend much of the season running for his life in the backfield.
Stat of note: How will Temple fare in the Big East? They are 2-6 against BCS schools over the last four years. Of course, that includes an 0-4 against rival Penn State. In the other games they own wins against Maryland and UConn. The losses were an OT loss to the Huskies and 2010 bowl game defeat versus UCLA.
Why they're dangerous: RB Matt Brown, while a diminutive 5-5, 165 pounds, can be a gamebreaker. He's rushed for more than 2,200 yards in his career with 18 touchdowns. If Temple's O-line can come together, the Owls offense will be enough to score wins with their solid defense.  
Media storyline: The first run through the Big East figures to be a struggle for the Owls and UC's first trip to Philadelphia will leave them as heavy favorites to leave with a win as the broadcast crew is to crush cheesesteaks.
Schedule Rank: 8. Temple's offensive line and depth issues could catch up with them as conference play unfurls. By the time UC shows up in November, that depth is likely to be exposed.  

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Location: Nippert Stadium
Date: Nov. 17
Time: Noon
TV: Big East Network
Offensive Starters: 6/11
Defensive Starters: 8/11
Specialists: 1/2
Last year: Rutgers (9-4, 4-3) defense made them one of the most underrated teams not just in the conference, but in the country. They finished eighth nationally in points against (18.7). In six of their seven Big East games, the Knights held the opponents at 17 points or less. Unfortunately, a young offense couldn't always capitalize. They did finish with a 27-13 win in the Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa State.
Player to watch: Khaseem Greene. The team's leading tackler (127) and BE co-defensive player of the year with Derek Wolfe returns to head the defensive unit that figures to be the most feared in the conference. He could have turned pro but decided to return to Rutgers coming off a broken leg (but he's expected to fully take part in preseason drills).
Stat of note: Six of Rutgers 11 projected defenders are senior returning starters.   
Why they're dangerous: This year, they may have the offense to pair with the intimidating defense. New coach Kyle Flood is an offensive line coach and brings in a new offensive coordinator to match six returning starters. Chas Dodd and Ivan Nova, last year's QB lazy susan, both return for a second go-round. Jawan Jamison, who Bearcats fans remember ran for 200 yards in Rutgers 20-3 win, will also return.
Media storyline: Is new coach Kyle Flood able to live up to the lofty expectations for the team? This figures to be a game with significant Big East implications at The Nipp if all falls to plan for these two programs.
Schedule Rank: 4. Barring a coaching collapse in Flood's first run, the Knights will be in the upper half of the final standings.

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