Officially or unofficially, Temple has lost every game against Penn State since a 1950 tie. The Owls haven't beaten the Nittany Lions since 1941. Just don't tell Steve Addazio.
"We approach this game like every other game," the Owls' second-year coach said.
And you, Bill O'Brien?
"No. No," the first-year Lions coach said. "At no point in time do I ever address winning streaks. That has nothing to do with this game. Every year is different. I don't know what they were like in 1940, but in 2012 this is an excellent Temple team with a bunch of good players."
It is a Temple team that might finally be ready to knock off its in-state rival, which lost 13 players in wake of NCAA sanctions and started 0-2 before routing Navy on Saturday. The Owls dropped a tight 14-10 contest to the Lions last season in Philadelphia that, along with every other Penn State victory from 1998-2011, was vacated in light of the school's child-abuse scandal. Temple battled Penn State to the end of a 22-13 loss one year earlier in Beaver Stadium, where the Owls have never won.
But Penn State's Big Ten pedigree and Temple's recent rise from the brink of no football to a first-year Big East member still leaves Addazio playing the underdog card when entering State College.
"What happens is obviously our roster is filled with a majority of Pennsylvania players, and Penn State was Penn State," Addazio said. "And so every guy on our roster didn't get recruited by anybody by Penn State, so they come in here and it's a measuring stick, and that fosters a great deal of rivalry into a game. It's just natural that that would happen, you know what I mean?"
A season-opening rout of Villanova gave way to a Sept. 8 letdown against Maryland. Addazio turned up the intensity during Temple's bye last week, implementing a more physically demanding set of practices.
He blamed himself for easing up a bit with a banged-up roster but does not want to make that mistake again, aiming for progress over preservation.
"Right now I think what's most important is that we develop," Addazio said. "I knew we'd be young, I knew this would be where we would be, so I like our practice. I think our players feel good about what we've gotten done right now. We're playing at a high-speed level as opposed to a low-speed level, and that's how you improve. You can't improve the other way, you just can't. You can get away with it with a veteran team but not a young team."
Addazio and O'Brien used to cross paths as college assistants and have developed a mutual respect for one another as rare Northeast-born coaches. But in the early stages of their first head-coaching jobs, neither sees the history between their programs as relevant to Saturday's contest.
"We're going to go in there and we're going to play as hard as we can play, and that's our mindset, not what the stats are, not how many years," Addazio said. "It just doesn't mean anything to me because when we go in the stadium, each guy's going to have to buckle his chin strap.
"It's going to be one guy against one guy and 11 against 11, that's what it is."