Could this finally be the year?

Could the punching bag finally get the best of the puncher?

Could the Temple Owls finally end seven decades of football frustration against Penn State on Saturday afternoon?

It's definitely possible - maybe not probable, but very possible.

Temple is playing at home, but that's not a huge edge. Lincoln Financial Field will be packed with Nittany Lion fans and they'll likely outnumber Temple followers by a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio. Still, the Owls will be in familiar surroundings, which is a plus.

Temple has also come out of the gate strong, earning easy wins over Villanova (42-7) and Akron (41-3). Granted, neither is a power, but the Owls struggled mightily with Villanova a year ago before escaping, 31-24. That same 2010 Temple team gave Penn State fits at Beaver Stadium, holding a 13-12 lead late in the third quarter before stubbornly succumbing, 22-13.

Temple had obviously closed the talent gap with Penn State under former head coach Al Golden, an ex-Nittany Lion who left the Owls after 2010 to take the Miami (Fla.) coaching job. Golden led Temple to 17 wins in the past two years.

Still, this year's Owls seem a significant upgrade over the 2010 model under new head coach Steve Addazio, who arrived after a successful stint as Florida's offensive coordinator, where he helped the Gators win two national titles.


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Addazio also brought highly-regarded assistant Scott Loeffler with him to north Philadelphia and Loeffler has the Owls' offense running at near-peak efficiency. Loeffler has an impressive pedigree, spending time in the NFL, in addition to being the quarterbacks coach with Florida and Michigan.

The Owls' offense also features a starter from York County - right guard Wayne Tribue, who is a Central York High graduate.

The Temple defense, led by senior defensive end Adrian Robinson (a Harrisburg High grad), is no slouch either, allowing just 10 points in two games.

Make no mistake. The Owls are formidable. They nearly took out Penn State a year ago. This year's PSU team, judging by the ugly Alabama effort, appears no better than the 2010 version. The Owls, however, are improved - much improved. It could be the recipe for an upset. The Lions are favored by 9½ points. That seems high.

Will Penn State beat Temple for a 29th-straight time? Probably. The Lions' overall talent is still superior to Temple's. But the Owls boast a top-notch coaching staff and will be dangerous.

Expect this game to be a dogfight right to the end. Penn State should survive, but it wouldn't be a big surprise if the Lions were 1-2 at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of the York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or at 854-1575, ext. 455.