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Penn State Football: In a Pinch, Paterno Preys on Temple

by on September 21, 2010 6:50 PM

Temple's visit to Happy Valley on Saturday harkens back to an older, simpler time. A time when Penn State regularly and thoroughly crushed a whole lineup of amicable and willing Eastern Palookas.

Where have you gone, Maryland, a hearty 0-28-1 against PSU from 1962 to 1993? A Nittany Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Please come, Boston College, for the autumn time. Surely the hard feelings from your 2-16 record against Penn State from 1965 to 1992 have been supplanted by your two wins during the Dark Years of 2003 and 2004.

Why stay home, West Virginia? Happy Valley is the place you belong, despite your 2-32 record vs. the Nittany Lions from 1959 to 1992.

For Penn State, playing those teams was a song. Now, they're as obsolete as the B side of a 45.

True, Syracuse lost a home-and-home in 2008-2009 to go 4-23 since 1966. But they're back against the Lions in the Meadowlands in 2013, and a pair of games in 2020-21 (presumably Joe Paterno won't be coaching by then; he'd be an even 100).

And Rutgers, with 13 losses against a solitary win (see Anderson, Dick, 1988) to the Nittany Lions since 1950, reappears in 2014 and 2015.

Penn State, really, though, has moved on.

There's a new set of welterweights in the Big Ten town: Since Penn State joined the conference in 1993, it is a combined 57-11 against Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State and Northwestern.

"But," asks the Eastern block, now shunned, of Penn State, "what about us?"

The reply: We'll always have Temple.

PATERNO WEARS ONE TIE

In his 61 years at Penn State, Paterno has been on the sidelines for 28 games against the Temple Owls, earning a perfect 26-0 slate as a head coach. Under Rip Engle, he was 1-0-1.

The average margin of victory has been 28.6 points during that time, and that includes a pair of one-pointers back in 1975-76, when Temple was led by the able Wayne Hardin.

Life at Temple was different under Hardin, who was 80-50-3 from 1970-82. He came close to beating Paterno a number of times, losing by such scores as 26-25, 31-30 and 10-7.

Those are margins Al Golden, in his fifth year at Temple, would die for.

"The gap (now) is huge, that's the problem," said Golden earlier this week. "The gap is 154-9 points over the last four years. They've outgained us by 1,073 yards; we've punted 17 more times. I could go on and on. It's going to be tough just to hang in the game with them."

The scores, all while Golden was the coach: 47-0, 31-0, 45-3 and 31-6.

Heck, the last time the Owls scored a touchdown against Penn State was in 2003 -- they lost to Penn State 23-10, by the way. The last time they even tied the Lions was 7-7 in 1950. And the last time they beat Penn State was a 14-0 shutout in 1941. The Temple coach was Ray Morrison. Paterno was 14 years old. And the bombing of Pearl Harbor was 42 days away.

What's past is prologue in the Penn State locker room this week. Penn State wide receiver Graham Zug, for one, doesn't give a hoot about the Owls' failings.

"The past is past," said the senior receiver, a bit miffed when given a history lesson in the form of a question. "It has nothing to do with the team now playing. This year they're a well-coached team."

NEW AND IMPROVED

The numbers bear that out. Temple is 3-0 for the first time since 1979 -- they lost 22-7 to Penn State that year, by the way -- and are atop the MAC standings at 1-0. The Owls beat Connecticut 30-14 last Saturday behind three touchdowns and 169 yards by running back Bernard Pierce. And they defeated Division I-AA Villanova, tops in the FCS poll, 31-24 in the season opener.

"I think this is going to be a tough ball game, a really tough ball game," Paterno said. "...They know a lot about us, the three kids played for us, and they've got momentum."

Here's what Paterno meant by the three kids:

Golden is a former Penn State captain as a tight end in 1991 -- Temple lost to Penn State 24-7 that year, by the way -- and was a Penn State assistant coach in 2000, helping to coach the linebackers and serving as recruiting coordinator.

Temple assistant head coach Mark D'Onofrio played linebacker for Penn State, leading the Lions in tackles (71) in 1990 -- Penn State beat Temple 48-10 that year, by the way -- and serving as captain with Golden, Sam Gash, Keith Goganious, Terry Smith and Darren Perry on an 11-2 squad in 1991.

Temple offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Rhule graduated from Penn State in 1997 and is a State College native. He played at State High with Penn State receivers coach Mike McQueary and as a linebacker at PSU he earned Academic All-Big honors as a senior.

Golden has worked with seven members of the current Penn State coaching staff, but Paterno sees little resemblance between Temple and Penn State.

"I think Al is developing a Temple program the way he wants it done," Paterno said. "...Now I'm sure there are some things that have happened here when he was captain of our team that maybe does carry over. But I don't see a lot of it in the schemes.

"The defensive schemes are different than some of the things we do. Offensively, they do some things -- a couple of things -- a lot better than what we're doing. So I think overall Al may have learned some things from us. I don't know. But he's pretty much his own man."

He's a man who is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Paterno, despite the fact his teams have yet to score a touchdown against the Nittany Lions, let alone beat them.

BRADLEY ROOTING FOR AL THE OWL

The man who is much more likely to follow JoePa, Tom Bradley, knows Golden quite well.

"Al is a great competitor and a good friend of mine," said Bradley after Saturday's Kent State game. "I'm happy for him. I cheer for him all the time, except for one week a season.

"D'Onofrio is a tireless worker, a fiery competitor. He's the only here to get thrown out of practice before we even started stretching. He and Golden, who were good friends, got into it and he got tossed. He asked, 'Hey, I need some work; is it OK if I practice?' "

D'Onofrio, by the way, lost that one.

"He went back in," recalled Bradley, "but Coach (Paterno) noticed him and threw him back out."



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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