Temple Football 2014: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Owls

Temple's P.J. Walker will be ahead of the curve and his blockers this fall.

Temple’s P.J. Walker will be ahead of the curve and his blockers this fall.

There is nothing like the start of the season in any sport and Temple head coach Matt Rhule might have said it best: “There is not a team on our schedule we cannot beat and there is not a team on our schedule who can’t beat us.”

In picking the outcome of this season, I’m taking the King Solomon Approach—splitting that schedule baby in half and coming up with six wins, six losses. That should get the Owls back to the Military Bowl, where my prediction is that they won’t have a rematch with any of the military academies (Navy is going to be the only one making a bowl and the Mids will opt for a more high-profile one).

I want a rematch with Rutgers but doubt the Scarlet Knights will win six games.

Here are my Owl predictions:

Thursday, Aug. 28, at Vandy

I see this one going pretty much the same way the UCLA game went in the Eagle Bank Bowl. The Owls scratch and claw for the lead most of the game but, in the end, five years of Power 5 Conference recruiting catches up to them. Commodores salt the game away by  with a Patton Robinette quarterback sneak on fourth and inches. “We thought about going to a shotgun handoff but coach (Derek Mason) talked me out of it,” offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell said. “I don’t want to use all the words he said, but he asked me if I was bleeping nuts but he didn’t say bleeping.”  Vandy, 31-21.

Saturday, Sept. 6 Navy

Biggest game of the season and Navy will win nine games but this will not be one of them. Temple DC Phil Snow is not good at defending three wides, but very adept at devising methods to stop the triple option. Key play: A 99-yard kickoff return for a score by Khalif Herbin revisiting memories of a similar play by James Nixon in the 2009 win at Navy. Key block in that one was provided by Matt Falcone. Key block in this one will be by John Christopher. Temple, 21-16.

Saturday, Sept. 20 Delaware State

Temple takes advantage of five Hornet turnovers in a 24-7 win. “Fordham taught us to never be overconfident,” Rhule says, holding the game ball.

Saturday, Sept. 27 at UConn

Austin Jones kicks the game-winning field goal in overtime as ESPN’s Kevin Neghandi, a Temple grad, is in attendance. Kenny Harper runs the ball straight up the middle for three straight plays after Nate L. Smith picks off a pass. “I wanted to put the ball in the middle of the field, that was my strategy,” Rhule said. “I said the best kicker in college football is going to have to win the game for Temple and he did.” Temple, 17-14, in OT. UConn players are quoted after the game as saying they have a strong feeling of de ja vu.

Saturday, Oct. 11 Tulsa

The last time Tulsa visited South Philadelphia it came away with a 15-10 win over a Bruce Arians’ coached Temple team. The results were reversed this time. Temple, 15-10. After the game, the Tulsa Chancellor fires head coach Bill Blakenship, saying “losing to Temple is unacceptable.” When asked to comment, Temple President Neil D.Theobald says: “Who the bleep are they to talk that kind of bleep about us?” An instant AAC rivalry is born. 

Friday, Oct. 17 at Houston

Houston coach Adam Levine dinks and dunks Temple all the way down the field on slant patterns over the middle. “Last year, their strategy was to keep us in front of them, let us make the catch, but take away the big plays,” Levine said. “We figured they’d do the same. We bled them to death.” Houston, 38-24.

Saturday, Oct. 25 at UCF

Without Blake Bortles, UCF relied on ball control and its defense to win a slugfest. “What happened to No. 19?” George O’Leary said, referring to Temple wide receiver Robbie Anderson. “That kid killed us last year.” When told Anderson flunked out of school, O’Leary shook his head.  “Our kids don’t even go to class in the fall.” UCF, 19-12.

Saturday, Nov. 1 East Carolina

East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden wins a passing war with P.J. Walker. Temple and East Carolina fan Winkel spends the first half on the Temple side of the field and the second half on the Pirate side. “The difference was my receivers held onto the ball and his dropped it,” Carden said. East Carolina, 36-30.

Friday, Nov. 7 Memphis

Tight end Romond DeLoatch catches three touchdowns over the middle as Temple rolls to a 41-12 win. “That was open for Chris Coyer and we thought it would be open for Romond, too,” Rhule said. “Fortunately, we were right.”

Saturday, Nov. 15 at Penn State

One hundred and six thousand Penn State fans cheer as Christian Hackenberg toys with the Temple secondary. Nits’ defense driven nuts by Walker, though, and Temple comes back from a 28-7 deficit in the second half to tie the game, but lose, 59-49. “My bad,” James Franklin said. “I should have run the ball with a 28-7 lead. You cannot give this Walker kid eight second-half possessions and that almost cost us the game.”

 Saturday, Nov. 29 Cincy

Tommy Tuberville comes out in three wides and throws sideline patterns down the field that cause the Owls fits. “We saw what Houston did, but we thought we’d use the out pattern instead of the slants in the middle of the field,” Tuberville said. “For some reason, their DBs play the man and not the ball. Fortunately for us because Gunner (Kiel) put it up for grabs and they could have had at least three pick 6s. They gave us 5 yards every time we wanted it.” Cincinnati, 31-24.

Saturday, Dec. 6 at Tulane

With a bowl game on the line, Tyler Matakevich gathers the defense around him and gives an impassioned speech at halftime with the game tied at 7-7. “I’ve never lost to f-ing Tulane in my life before and I’m not going to start losing to f-ing Tulane now,” Matakevich said. Owls cheer wildly, pounding their helmets on the gold floor of the new Tulane stadium locker room and play the defensive game of the year in the second half, shutting the Green Wave out  on the way to a 21-7 win. “I didn’t mention that I never played Tulane,” Matakevich grinned. “I didn’t think it was important at the time.”

Sunday, Dec. 7—bowl selection Sunday party at the LC, 6 p.m.

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40 thoughts on “Temple Football 2014: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Owls

  1. Love the sarcasm Mike. Great job.

  2. Four wins this year max. I don’t see the coaching required to ‘steal’ games. If we don’t have considerably more talent than the opposition we’ve got an uphill battle. Go Owls!

    • I like Temple’s talent but I have a year full of evidence to the contrary on the coaching end. Coach is going to have to step up his game. Not asking him to be Wayne Hardin (nobody is) but asking him to not be Ron Dickerson and Jerry Berndt is not much to ask.

  3. I too loved the sarcasm and references to last year’s “on-field experiences.” Tonight will show if the coaching has improved. Seems like there’s enough quality players to do the job. Hope so. Go owls.

  4. Mike

    I think that everyone will agree that the Week 2 matchup with Navy is the KEY to a successful season. If the Owls can pull out a big win in this game, it is easy to see them sitting at 4-1 going into the Houston game. At 4-1, it is all together possible that their confidence will build and an upset over any of Houston, UCF, or East Carolina could be predicted.

    However, a loss to Navy will put them in a position of NEEDING a big upset somewhere down the road just to have hopes of 5-6 wins. Additionally, starting off the year at 0-2, casts serious doubts on the following 3 games.

    I believe that an 0-2 start will be a harbinger of disaster, which makes even the Delaware St game up for grabs. Based upon last year, I do not believe there are any easy wins on this schedule. They should win at least 4, possibly 5. Considerable improvement, plus pulling out the Navy game can raise expectations to 6 wins, which should gauruntee a bowl game right??

    I am only a casual fan, you guys all know much more than me, but I am skeptical about their chances against Navy. Can they win this one? It looks to me like Navy can legitimately be considered a Top 30 team in the nation.

  5. Another curious point, assume that the Owls do beat Navy, build momentum and confidence by starting 4-1. What is the best case scenario after that?

    Which game can you guys see the Owls scoring a HUGE upset?

    For my money, I am going with finally getting the monkey off of our backs by knocking off PSU. I believe that the Nittany faithful have jumped the gun a bit by thinking they are further down the road on their comeback than they actually are. I feel that it’s possible that PSU might already have 4-5 losses by the time Temple gets up there dashing their season.

    • PSU is probably the least likely upset win, I think Houston is our best chance to win as an underdog. That game will most likely be a shoutout that PJ could steal for us. The problem with predicting anything better than 6-6 is because the games we should win, we will only be slight favorites and the our projected losses will come as significant underdogs. So the probability of losing a winnable game is much higher than winning an upset game.

    • I’d love to beat PSU. Don’t see it. Great qb vs. suspect dc and secondary.

  6. you guys are sic…., Navy will be one of the three best teams we’ll play this year…, PSU and Cincy being the other two

    • They are 4-4 against teams with winning records with aloss to Western Kentucky. Lost to Toledo. I would say they are Cincy, Houston, PSU, Vanderbilt (even thought not looking like it so far tonight) are all better

    • Navy a top 3 team on our schedule??? LOL. Their best win was against Indiana and they lost to WKU, Toledo, and by 28 to Duke. Their schedule was a joke last season.

  7. Mike, starting off the season wrong must feel bitter sweet?

    • Matt,
      no bitter, just sweet. I want to see Temple win because a winning season is what we need this year to keep the program going. Don’t think 5-7 will convince the BOT to do anything but take the program to Franklin Field and that would kill it.

  8. Great win by the Owls tonight. watched it deep into the morning with my fellow temple fans at the field house. will gather my thoughts and write something late friday night. suffice it to say we gave james franklin something to think about.

  9. I know it is only one game and they could get throttled next week, but almost everybody on this site owes something to Snow. I know he did a terrible job last year, but his defense shut out an SEC team on tbe road last night. Great win for the Owls. I think this raises the expectations for this year considerably. If they beat Navy next week, this year could be special.

    • I don’t want to be negative following such a big win, but we don’t owe Snow anything after last night. Vandy imploded and was horribly coached. A new coach panicked and started shuffling his QBs (something we have seen too), which destroyed team cohesion. Are we better than last year? Absolutely, but there had to be improvement after how abysmal the defense was last year. I am definitely waiting a few weeks before I decide anything on Snow.

      • Tractor agree with the wait and see for a couple of games before “giving” anything to Snow. That being said it does seem the team based on last night has more of the kind of players that make Snow’s style, at how he ran defenses in the PAC 10, more effective. Plus a year playing under his system hopefully is paying dividends

      • Give Snow credit where it is due. Veteran offensive line and we were in their backfield all night. Mason shuffled qb’s because nothing was working and there wasn’t a super clear winner of their QB competition.

      • I am not saying Snow was not horrible last year. He was. It was unacceptable. All I am saying is, it would be nice to give him some kudos after last night’s dominant performance. He shutout an SEC offense. Worth a little credit. If he gives up 50 to Navy we can kill him again next week.

    • Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Vandy’s coach turned out to be the bigger moron

  10. Personnel had something to do with it. Loved the way we played the ball and not the man last night.

  11. So much good to say I almost don’t know where to start. The D in all phases including pass protection really did the job. The O-line did real well too. The kicking game was solid (except for kickoffs – into the end zone damn it!). But cautious optimism is best just yet. IF we beat Navy, its no telling what upsets we could be in store – including PSU – but 7 or more wins are possible, if, if, if. But these kids want it bad and with what looks like a solid D backfield, improved kicking game and at least pretty good young O-line, the Owls could do quite well. Hard to tell if Vandy is just not very good though. But considering the line was 16 pts, Temple went down there and stuck it to them – about the same margin in reverse as Golden’s first year loss to them. Its exciting. Go Owls.

  12. Great win by the Owls last night and kudos to the kids and coaches! The offense has made major improvements from last season. I don’t mean to imply they’re dominant but they played with poise and didn’t turn the ball over.

    The defense, while benefitting from a very badly prepared and disjointed offense, played well. They went after the ball and as the game progressed got more aggressive in going after the QB.

    Special teams is still an area of concern but was good enough not to cost us the games last night.

    The coaching staff really appeared to have the team well prepared. Go Owls!

  13. Wow. Just wow. Beyond my wildest dreams (and I have wild dreams). Shocking play from the secondary! D-line pressure, P.J. burning it up. And…. a kicking game! Terrific.

    1) Pray P.J. stays healthy (not TOO many carries, please!)

    2) How do you prognosticators see us doing against Navy’s offense?

    3) Mike…. will I see you at the Navy game?

    🙂 Rob V.

    • you definitely will, rob. I looked for you at homecoming last year. I will be at the steve conjar tailgate most of the time. also will stop and pay my respects to nj schmitty’s family, who are holding a special memorial tailgate for him.

  14. did we have any significant injuries last night?

  15. By the way, how did Matakevich do? Probably not so many tackles because the D-line did so well.

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