After a back and forth battle with USC, Notre Dame outlasted the Trojans with a strong fourth quarter. Against Temple, the Irish should hope to be in better position heading into the game’s final 30 minutes. Because the Owls have proven to be a very good second half team and even better closers.
The identity of Matt Rhule’s undefeated team is its toughness, led by a defense that’s among the best statistical units in the country. And buoyed by that performance, the Owls have showed an ability to finish games, playing solid football in the first and second quarter before separating from the pack in the second half.
Temple’s scoring margin in the first half is a respectable +16. But in the second half that number jumps to +108. Through seven games the Owls have given up a ridiculous 4.1 points on average in the second half while scoring nearly 20 points.
In a exciting road environment that’ll feature a sold out Lincoln Financial Stadium, getting off to a quick start is critical. It’s also been something absent in Notre Dame’s last four road contests.
Against Clemson and Virginia, the Irish only scored a combined 15 points in the first half. Last year’s two final away contests, against USC and Arizona State, Notre Dame only managed 17 first half points.
Slow starts and a difficult second-half opponent? That’s a scenario that deserves watching, and Brian Kelly is well aware that his team needs to come out of the gates ready to perform, especially against a team that’s evolved so much from the first squad Matt Rhule brought to South Bend.
“They play great second-half football. They won a lot of games late. Just have a really solid football team,” Kelly said Tuesday. “Again, one deserving of where they are, a top 25 football team. It will be a great challenge for our football team, going on the road, and one that we’ll have to play very well.”