Most important game: Temple Owls

May, 28, 2013
5/28/13
4:00
PM ET
Matt Rhule takes over the Owls in their second season in the conference. Which game should he have circled on his calendar?

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Temple

Most important game: Sept. 7 vs. Houston

Why: The Rhule era kicks off Aug. 31 in South Bend, Ind. And while the Everett Golson news has Notre Dame certainly looking a bit more vulnerable now than it did a week ago, pulling off an upset of that magnitude is a tall, tall task for a first-year head coach and a program that is widely expected to finish near the bottom of the conference.

But Week 2 presents a more manageable task in Houston. The Cougars are a conference newcomer, and they could be a darkhorse to compete near the top of the Big East, though they will now be without running back Charles Sims, a big blow to the program. This is also Rhule's first home game as a head coach in Philly, and a win in that debut could bring all sorts of good vibes to a program looking to rebound from Steve Addazio's departure and establish itself as a player in the conference moving forward.

Games the following two weeks against Fordham and Idaho don't register much nationally, and a two-game set afterward against conference heavyweights Louisville and Cincinnati makes for a tough start to October.

Beat Houston, and take care of business against the rest of the following nonconference foes before an Oct. 5 game against the Cardinals? You can do much worse than 3-1 through September if you're Temple, and a strong start could get some momentum rolling into the heart of conference play.

Matt Fortuna | email

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