In one of my several side jobs, I write prediction stories for Rantsports.com on college football.
This week, I got a call from my editor asking for a prediction story for the UCF-Temple game.
“Can’t do it,” I said. “Too many ifs and buts.”
I took the Rutgers-Nebraska, Marshall-FAU and Penn State-Ohio State assignments instead.
If I had a better feel for Temple’s approach to the game, this would be an easy assignment. For example, the first play of the Houston game, I thought would be a perfect time for the reverse Jalen Fitzpatrick pass to Robbie, err, Keith Kirkwood. Hit Houston before it had a chance to get settled. Houston doesn’t know Temple’s top wide receiver was a Big 33 quarterback. There’s no law limiting trick plays to one a game, let alone one a year. Heck, Bruce Arians can tell you they work multiple times in a game. Two trick plays—flea-flickers from Matty Baker to Mike Palys—both resulted in touchdowns for the Owls in a 45-28 win over Boston College in the 1988 season. They do work if you have the gonads to call them. Arians had the gonads.
To me, this is a game Temple can either a) win by blowout; b) win close; c) lose by blowout d) lose close.
That pretty much covers all the bases and why I would stay away from this game if I was a betting man.
- Win by blowout: Temple beat a Uconn team, 36-10, that Tulane could only beat 12-3 (7-3 for much of the game). Tulane hung with UCF most of the way in a 20-13 loss.
- Lose by blowout: Temple looked pretty clueless on offense in a 31-10 loss to Houston. UCF beat Houston, 17-12.
- Win close: If Temple can hang with Penn State Nov. 15 (and I think this year’s version of the Owls can), it can steal a win at the end of the game with UCF on a field goal just like Penn State did. How delicious would it be if freshman kicker Austin Jones, from Orlando, kicks the game-winning field goal in a stadium where he’s kicked many times? I’ll take it, though I’d prefer scenario No. 1.
- Lose close: With P.J. Walker being asked to throw into so many tight windows, that is the most likely path to not getting the most out of this talented kid’s ability. Hopefully, the Temple coaches will finally devise a system where he’s throwing most of his passes out of play-action and others on the roll, forcing LBs and safeties to honor the threat of the run and opening those passing windows. I really think the Temple coaches believe in “the process” and the only process I’ve seen so far is a lot of passes that call for P.J. to thread the needle. Not a good process.