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Better Know an AAC Opponent: The Temple Owls

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Vanderbilt kicks off the 2014 football season with a Thursday night home game against Temple. Can the Owls avenge their 2006 loss in Nashville? Or will Derek Mason reign supreme in his first game as a SEC head coach?

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The School: Temple University

Record: 2-10 (1-7 in the AAC, 4-7 in 2012). Last year's record includes losses to FCS program Fordham and probable junior college Idaho (in the Kibbie Dome, at least).

Ranking: Temple finished 2013 rated 125th in the Real Time RPI (behind 16 FCS teams) and are currently in a 128-way tie for first place in Warren Nolan's rankings.

Mascot: The Owls.

Location: Philadelphia, PA. Temple could claim a share of the country's worst sports fans if anyone actually went to their games.

Conference: The Metro American Athletic Conference. That's as close as they could get to calling it "Conference-USA 2" without a lawsuit.

Formerly of the Big East and briefly of the MAC. The last time Vandy faced an AAC team, they won the Liberty Bowl BBVA Compass Bowl. A victory against Temple probably won't have the same kind of celebration, but in fairness we haven't seen Karl Dorrell's postgame behavior yet.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 1-1, in a rivalry that dates all the way back to 1935.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 0-1. Vanderbilt beat the Owls 43-14 in a 2006 game so historic that ESPN can't even be bothered to find the box score for it. The recap assures me that Jared Hawkins had two touchdowns, but that certainly doesn't sound right.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: See above. That 2006 game was also enough to get us all invested in Cassen Jackson-Garrison as the next big thing (142 yards, 2 TD) only to see him gain 133 yards in his next three games combined. Temple: where false hope is born.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: P.J. Walker is a perfectly cromulent quarterback who threw for over 2,000 yards as a freshman. He'll be missing his biggest deep threat now that wideout Robbie Anderson (44 catches, 791 yards in 2013) is no longer with the team, but Jalen Fitzpatrick should be able to carry some of that burden. Walker is also a crafty runner who can extend drives with his feet. The Owls won't be the strongest offensive team that the 'Dores face, but they'll give Vanderbilt and their brand new starting secondary a test in week one.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Tavon Young tied for the team lead in interceptions last season...with one. He had a nose for the ball, however, breaking up or defending 11 other passes throughout the season. He could be the thorn that sticks in Patton Robinette's side if the young QB hasn't improved his on-field awareness.

Matchup to Watch: The Temple offense versus Derek Mason's brand new 3-4 defense. The Owls' offense was mostly inept in 2013, but they did manage to put up 49 points against SMU and 36 against a good Central Florida team. Mason came to Vanderbilt after leading a top 10 Stanford defense to multiple BCS bowls. If he wants to be successful in the SEC - and shake the pundits from his tail for at least one week - he and defensive coordinator David Kotoluski are going to have to shut Temple down in Nashville.

Interesting Fact: The Matt Rhule Era (2-10 overall), according to Wikipedia:

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Bonus Fact: Temple is currently leading the AAC in unreadable hashtags. #WETHET

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If Temple wins, we: set Derek Mason adrift on the Cumberland River. No time for rational thinking, everyone!