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Temple prepares for Golden opportunity

| Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010

Al Golden graduated from Penn State in 1991 with a degree in pre-law, but he recited Temple's numbers against the Nittany Lions on Monday with the ease of a math major.

"The gap is huge, that's the problem. The gap is huge," the Temple coach said. "The gap is 154 points to nine over the last four years, that's the issue. The issue is we've been outgained by 1,073 yards over the last four years. We've punted 17 more times. I mean, I can go on and on."

Golden was summarizing his team's performance against Penn State since he took over as Temple's head coach before the 2006 season. And yes, every figure and word is correct.

But Golden and the Owls may enter Happy Valley this season with a little more flair than normal. Temple has increased its win total under Golden in each of his first four years and is off to a 3-0 start this season for the first time since 1979.

"Every year I've been here, they've gotten tougher, tougher and tougher," Penn State fifth-year senior captain Ollie Ogbu said. "And they have that Philly bravado. They're tough guys, and they want to come in here and push us around because we're all 'high and mighty' Penn State."

Golden coached the linebackers and was the Nittany Lions' recruiting coordinator in 2000, and Ogbu said he sees some of the 'Penn State mentality' in Temple.

"They run the ball a lot, they're really aggressive, they talk a lot of trash, but that's expected," Ogbu said. "Those are some tough guys."

Golden was a two-year starter at tight end while at Penn State and, like Ogbu, was a captain during his senior season in 1991.

But Bob Ceh, a former Penn State long-snapper and Golden's former Nittany Lion teammate, felt the coaching bug was not always visible in Golden's demeanor.

"I was a little surprised when he got into it [coaching]," said Ceh, now the dean of students at Seneca Valley High School and an assistant football coach at North Allegheny. "Not that he wasn't a headsy guy, but, with some people, you can tell that they have the mentality of wanting to become a coach. He always seemed like a pretty mellow guy, not outspoken. Sometimes, that is the way your future coaches are."

Golden said Monday that he has not shared any Penn State memories with his current players, instead focusing on this Saturday's game.

Temple finished 9-4 last season after losing to UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl, the Owls' first bowl appearance since winning the Garden State Bowl in 1979.

As Penn State's search for a successor to Joe Paterno draws closer, and as Golden's program continues to improve, fans and media members cannot help but wonder if a former Nittany Lion could be the one roaming the home sidelines at Beaver Stadium in the future.

Golden, normally reserved on the topic, likely will be back in State College one way or another, as Penn State and Temple announced yesterday a three-game series between the schools from 2014-16. They are in the middle of a seven-game series that will end in 2012.

Paterno has never lost to Temple since arriving to Penn State, and Golden knows the challenge his team will have ahead of it this week.

He just won't be reminding his players about their recent performances against the Nittany Lions.

"I don't want to go talking to the players about it because it's deflating; it's quite a challenge," Golden said. "And we've got to muster up the strength to go up there and play well."

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