One aspect of Saturday’s game against Temple (7-0) that has me intrigued is the superficial similarity it has to Notre Dame’s (6-1) National Championship Game against Alabama in 2013. The Temple Owls come into Saturday’s game without a loss and College GameDay is comin’ to their citayyyyy. They’re ranked in the Top Twenty-Five for the first time since 1979. They’re a program returned to relevance.
And they’re running into a buzz saw.
For those of you who lived through, and still remember, that frightful night in January when Alabama overwhelmed the Irish, you will recall the biggest difference between the teams was depth. Down the line and across the board, Alabama was deeper. While Notre Dame may have had a better player at a given position, Alabama was simply deeper than Notre Dame. Deeper in talent. Alabama had more stars.
To compare Temple to Notre Dame, I took the projected two-deep rosters for both teams and went through the process of tallying up the Rivals rankings for each player. While there are some differences between the two schemes, I think the similarities make the comparison fair across the position groups. In gross terms, each team has three receivers positions, five offensive linemen, a tight end, a quarterback, a running back, four defensive linemen, three linebackers, two cornerbacks, two safeties, a punter, and a placekicker.
Receivers: of the six receivers on Notre Dame’s two-deep, five (Fuller, St. Brown, Carlisle, Hunter, Jr., Robinson) were four star recruits. One (Brown) was three. Of the six Temple receivers, only one (Adonis Jennings) was a four star recruit. He is a transfer from Pitt. One (Romond Deloatch) was three stars and three (Robby Anderson, Samuel Benjamin, Brodrick Yancy) were two star recruits. To his credit, starter John Christopher was unranked. Notre Dame: 23, Temple: 13
Running Back: for the Irish, both Prosise and Adams were three star recruits. For Temple, the starter, Jahad Thomas was a two star recruit and backup Ryquell Armstead was a three star. Notre Dame: 6, Temple: 5
Quarterback: Notre Dame’s quarterbacks, Kizer and Wimbush were both four star recruits. Temple’s starter, P.J. Walker, was two stars. His backup, Frank Nutile, was three. Notre Dame: 8, Temple: 5
O-Line: the Irish have one five star (Nelson), six (Stanley, Bivin, Bars, Mustipher, Elmer, McGlinchey) four star, and two (Martin, McGovern) three star recruits. Temple have one (James McHale) three star on the line. For what it’s worth, he’s the backup left tackle. The rest, nine players (Dion Dawkins, Shahbaz Ahmed, Jovahn Fair, Kyle Friend, Brendan McGowan, Brian Carter, Semaj Reed, Eric Lofton, Leon Johnson) were two star recruits. Notre Dame: 35, Temple: 21
Tight End: Notre Dame’s starter (Luatua) is three stars and backup (Weishar) is four. Temple’s are a four (Colin Thompson) and a two (Kip Patton). Notre Dame: 7, Temple: 6
D-Line: Notre Dame has four (Day, Hayes, Tillery, Rochell) four stars and three (Okwara, Trumbetti, Cage) three stars. Temple has one (Freddie Booth-Lloyd) three star, six (Nate Smith, Sharif Finch, Matt Ioannidis, Averee Robinson, Hershey Walton, Jacob Martin) two star, and one (Haason Reddick) no star. Notre Dame: 25, Temple: 15
LB: Notre Dame has one (Smith) five star, three (Onwualu, Morgtan, Coney) four star, one (Martini) three star, and one (Schmidt) no stars. Temple has two (Chapelle Russell, Jarred Alwan) three star, three (Tyler Matakevich, Avery Williams, Stephaun Marshall) two star and one (Nick Sharga) no star. Notre Dame: 21, Temple: 6
CB: the Irish have two (Russell, Luke) four star, one (Butler) three star and one (Coleman) two star recruits. Temple have one (Jean Chandler) three star and three (Artel Foster, Tavon Young, Nate Hairston) two star recruits. Notre Dame: 13, Temple: 9
S: Notre Dame has one (Redfield) five star, one (Shumate) four star, and two (Baratti, Farley) three star recruits. Temple have two (Adeboye Aromire, Alex Wells) three star, one (Nate L. Smith) two star, and one (Will Hayes) no star recruits. Notre Dame: 15, Temple: 8
P: Notre Dame has one (Newsome) three star and one (Riney) no star at punter. Temple has two (Alex Starzyk, Tyler Mayes) no star punters. Notre Dame: 3, Temple: 0
PK: the Irish have one (Yoon) three star and one (Cheveson) no star placekicker. Temple have two (Austin Jones, Tyler Mayes) no star placekickers. Notre Dame 3: Temple: 0
If you’re counting, that’s 159 stars to the Irish versus 88 to the Owls. That’s an enormous gap between the two programs. Is it a perfect comparison? Not at all. For starters, no weight is given to experience: a five star pure freshman rates higher than a fifth-year, no star phenom. It doesn’t measure performance versus potential: Ishaaq Williams, anyone? And Jerry Tillery’s stars came as an offensive lineman. So it’s flawed. But, as a measure of talent across the board, it’s fair and objective. It helps explain the Vegas line as of the date of my research (Sunday): ND -10.5. Interestingly, ‘bama was a 9.5 favorite over Notre Dame in 2013.
Looking at wins, as another comparison, Temple’s 7-0 is more an argument that they’re better than some really bad teams than anything else. In wins over Penn State (5-2), Cincinnati (4-3), UMass (1-6), Charlotte (2-5), Tulane (2-5), UCF (0-8) and East Carolina (4-4), Temple has only impressed against Penn State. They squeaked by UMass 25-23 while the Irish beat them 62-27. Terry, no doubt, will argue in the comments that Temple’s defense must be better than ours.
So, despite the hype, I’m not too worried about Saturday night. Temple doesn’t have the talent to go four quarters against the Irish.