Brandon McManus will never forget the strangest sound the last time Temple ventured out to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. On Saturday, when the Owls (1-1) return for their only game in a month to take on the Nittany Lions (1-2) he’d love for more of the same — only to last longer.
“Two years ago, we went to Penn State and were leading at half,” said Temple’s reliable kicker, who received a special community service award prior to yesterday’s weekly press briefing. “It’s the first time I ever heard the place silent. Last year, we played them tough, too, but lost at the end. This year we know they’re still a very talented team, though I don’t think their record reflects that. We know it’s going to be tough.”
Impossible? No one at Temple wants to believe that, even though it’s been since 1941 –36 losses, one tie — that the Owls have pulled off such a trick. This will be Steve Addazio’s second try, after coming close in a 14-10 loss last year in the last three minutes. Don’t tell them a win wouldn’t mean the same now that Joe Paterno’s gone and Penn State has been hit hard by NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Especially considering many of Temple’s players once weren’t deemed good enough to be Lions.
“I can’t look you in the eye and give you coach speak that it’s just another game,” said Addazio. “The reality of it is, when our team is made up of predominantly Pennsylvania players; guys who were not recruited by Penn State, there’s a tremendous excitement level to go up and play them. Of course, there would be.”
Temple can’t worry about any of that as the Owls make their annual bid to scale Mt. Nittany and end that 71-year drought. For Brandon McManus & Co. one thing will tell them whether it’s been a successful trip: silence.