COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — For the second week in a row, Temple will confront a bully that has been pushing it around for years.
The Owls stood up to Penn State last Saturday and never backed down. In the end, though, Temple walked away with its 29th consecutive loss in the lopsided rivalry.
Temple (2-1) can only hope its performance Saturday at Maryland (1-1) has a far more satisfying conclusion.
Since the series began in 1997, the Terrapins have gone 6-0 against the Owls. Maryland won the last two meetings, in 2004 and 2005, by a combined 54 points.
But these aren’t the same old Owls, thanks in part to first-year coach Steve Addazio. Temple opened with a 42-7 win over Villanova, followed with a 41-3 rout of Akron before putting a major scare into Penn State.
“It’s an exciting time for Temple football,” Addazio said. “There are so many positive things happening right now. We’ve just got to keep progressing.”
The Owls may have lost last week, but they sure got Maryland’s attention.
“They could be 3-0,” Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said. “They gave Penn State everything that they had, and had opportunities to win that game. They put it to Villanova the first week and they trounced Akron the second week. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge, one that we really have to prepare for.”
Temple will be making a quarterback change. Senior Chester Stewart will take the opening snap instead of Mike Gerardi, who started the previous three games. The switch comes after Gerardi went 9 for 22 for 95 yards and two interceptions last week.
Addazio said he went to Stewart “based on game tape.”
“That doesn’t mean Gerardi won’t play,” said Addazio, who bristled at the suggestion that he was employing a two-quarterback system.
“Not in any way, shape or form,” he said. “Our intent is to the get the right guy in there.”
Which means it’s now Stewart’s job to lose.
Stewart’s asset is his versatility. Playing in the backup role, he has rushed 12 times and attempted only eight passes.
“I’m a little more agile than (Gerardi),” said Stewart, who will be making his 15th career start.
It will be the 13th career start for Maryland sophomore quarterback Danny O’Brien, who has been itching to get back on the field after being picked off three times last week in a 37-31 loss to West Virginia. O’Brien ranks first in the nation in completions (32.5 per game), but he has already thrown four interceptions compared to eight all last year.
“We just have to take care of the ball,” O’Brien said. “I feel like we’re going to run a lot of plays, so if you can take care of the ball and convert on third down, it’s going to equate into points.”
Maryland is averaging 31.5 points per game, and its no-huddle offense ran 87 plays against West Virginia. The challenge for the Terrapins is to continue that kind of output against a defense that has allowed three touchdowns in two games.
The key is protecting O’Brien, a job the offensive line has thus far performed flawlessly. The Terrapins have yet to yield a sack this year, but will be tested by a defense that ranks eighth in the nation with an average of four sacks per game.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)