We’re On To Cincinnati

Matt Rhule correctly set the tone last week when, while talking about PSU, said Cincy was more important.

The calendar says the AAC championship football game is scheduled for Dec. 5 in an as-yet unnamed location. Calendars cannot speak, but at least this time the calendar lied. All signs point to the winner of the Temple at Cincinnati game (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN News) as the favorite to come away with the league’s championship.

If there was any question of a letdown for the Owls after an emotionally and physically draining win, this trophy will probably go to the winner of Saturday's game. Win now and it's a clear path to a home AAC title game on Dec. 5.

If there was any question of a letdown for the Owls after an emotionally and physically draining win, this trophy will probably go to the winner of Saturday’s game. Win now and it’s a clear path to a home AAC title game on Dec. 5.

For Temple fans willing to make the trip, though, the game should be one of the most entertaining of the season in any league. Cincinnati came into the game as the favorite to win the AAC East and the winner of the East plays the AAC West champion for the overall title. Taking that thought process a step further, if Navy—as expected—were to win the West, it would probably be an underdog to both the Owls and the Bearcats so the importance of this game cannot be understated.

Even without the above narrative, this is an intriguing matchup of counterpunchers in that it pits the league’s top defense, Temple, vs. the league’s top offense, Cincinnati. The game will probably be determined by which of the weaker sides of the ball have improved more, the Owls’ offense or the Bearcats’ defense. The Bearcats’ major advantage is having arguably the league’s best player, quarterback Gunner Kiel.

Temple has proven to be the league’s most ready for prime time team, having pummeled two members of the Power 5 in the last two seasons. The Owls had a SEC scalp last year, a 37-7 win at Vanderbilt, and added a Big 10 one this year in a 27-10 win over Penn State last week. In that same time frame, Cincinnati’s only win over a P5 team was 42-7 over Big 10 member Purdue a year ago.  It’s hard to tell anything about the Bearcats, who beat overmatched Alabama A&M, 52-10, last week.  The Bulldogs were 4-8 at the FCS level a year ago.

Great photo of Temple AD Pat Kraft (with tie) going nuts as he watches Jahad Thomas score a TD.

Great photo of Temple AD Pat Kraft (with tie) going nuts as he watches Jahad Thomas score a TD.

There were signs last week that the Owls did more to fix their offense than the Bearcats have to fix their defense, as Jahad Thomas rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries in the win over Penn State and quarterback P.J. Walker, rejuvenated by the return of wide receiver Robby Anderson and the addition of four-star Pitt transfer Adonis Jennings, went 15 for 20 in the passing game.

Whether that is enough to overcome a home-field advantage is the key question in a game where the key answer probably means a championship for the winner.

Tomorrow:  The Concept of a Letdown

Saturday: Cincinnati’s Defense

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23 thoughts on “We’re On To Cincinnati

  1. I was so afraid you were going to recount all of the games we lost after a big upset in a Throwback Thursday piece. I am more excited about this game than any previous game, maybe because this is the first game after a Penn State win I have ever experienced and because as you say, it may be the AAC championship game. I am convinced that our offense, if they stick to the plan, has improved a great deal over last year. That should give us the victory.

    • Toledo comes to mind after a 38-7 win at Maryland in 2011. That’s an Ohio team. I hope that is where the comparison ends.

    • Boston U was a let down game in 1972 after the Owls beat West Virginia in a thriller. More recently, losing to Memphis after beating ECU last year was a downer. Being aware of the let down problem is the first step. Remediation is step two. Temple needs to get over the Penn State game and focus on Temple (not Cincy). There were plenty of mistakes that the players and coaches will see in the film.

      • actually, I think Memphis was a better team than the Owls last year. To me, the Navy loss after the Vandy win was inexcusable. Temple can still have a great season with a LOSS to Cincy, but not a historic season. 7-0 into ND would be a historic season. Beat Cincy, and it will happen.

      • I could count on one hand minus the thumb of teams Temple lost to in the 13 years of the Hardin Regime that it should have beaten. That’s one of the four. Coach was remarkably consistent in beating the teams he was favored to beat and more often reached up and beat teams that were favored to beat him.

  2. beggars cannot be choosers, but I don’t like the idea of Temple in the Big 12. Makes much more sense ACC (Pitt, ‘cuse, bc). We would be a logical replacement for Maryland and our hoops’ program would not be overwhelmed in the ACC.

    • Mike, have to agree with you regarding the Big 12. Of course I’m sure the university wouldn’t say no if the conference came calling do feel the same that the ACC would be a much better fit

  3. Of course the ACC is the place to go. Nevertheless, absent big five conference affiliation, our sports programs will slowly wither away.

    • Agree. Temple should take the FIRST P5 offer, even if it’s the PAC-12. 🙂 … Schools left out of the P5 will become as irrelevant as the Ivy League in 10 years. Temple was the only school in the MAC to ever have a chance to leave that hellhole. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Owls will also get a P5 chance. I don’t think the P5 is done settling.

      • Temple has the chance to exceed an average attendance mark of 35,000 this year

      • Mike, I’m assuming you mean recently with regards to getting out of the MAC. Didn’t UCF also bolt the conference?

      • yes, but big difference is they bolted for a parallel conference, cusa; we were given the unique opportunity to jump from the Mac to what was then a P6 conference, the big east, before the other five went off on their own.

  4. hell, if they don’t, I’ll be disappointed. Let me get the calculator out: 70K for PSU, 70K for ND and 25K for each of the remaining 4=40,000 average per game.

  5. Getting into a P5 conference, especially the ACC, would be smart considering the future of college athletics and for cutting travel expenses. But as far as Temple’s level of play? Football would struggle against the FSUs and Clemsons and even the NC teams. Ga tech, BC, Cuse and Pitt, we’d compete. Even BB, the ACC is the best conference in the country. Temple Bb is like Boise State football – knock off some top teams here and there and do well in a weaker conference, but could they take the season’s pounding in the ACC? I mean look at last year. As good as the final record was, we lost 3 times to SMU, went only to the NIT and got beat by Miami (a middle of the road ACC team). So, again, Temple still has a lot to prove in football and has never been in an absolute top BB conference – so mediocrity could very possibly be the future, even as things are right now.

  6. Where did my comment go?

    • you mean the one above the “where did my comment go” (about the P5) or another one? My feeling is that even with last year’s basketball team we might not have won 26 regular-season games, but 18-22 would have gotten us into the NCAA. The “eye test” is nothing more than a P5 rule that means if it’s between a P5 team an a G5 team pick the P5 team. I call that the Stevie Wonder Rule. We protect our hoops by going into the P5, not hurt it. Also, recruiting would be better because kids want to play in the P5. … and don’t forget the Elephant in the Room, cost of attendance. With P5 affiliation, we can afford it. Without P5 affiliation, we’re screwed. As far as football, got to figure it would make it easier for “Matt” to recruit. I see P5 as win/win in all areas and the ultimate goal for Temple athletics.

      • Entry into the ACC would immediately improve recruiting especially for the basketball team. Kids could no longer complain that TU plays no one given that every conference game would involve teams with basketball pedigrees. As far as football goes, many teams in the ACC travel well. Remember how many VTech fans were at the games and 44g at Franklin Field for Miami? Attendance definitely would average over 30k especially if the Owls were competitive. .

  7. I’d just like to say I have a huge smile on my face reading this comment section. ACC, P5 conferences, and debating 35k-40k game attendance averages. After the last two years I’m surprised we’re here having this conversation (in a good way).

    I think a win against Cinci puts Temple on a great path toward Dec. 5.

    • agreed. Like Pete Liacouras said, winning cures all ills.

    • without giving away anything, I don’t think Cincy will see the putrid offensive team we fielded last November. Shock and awe. For all the bad-mouthing PSU got from their own fans, they do have one of the better defenses in the Big 10. Cincy’s doesn’t compare. Those quick outs where Robby got tackled immediately last week turn into 6 points against Cincy. I hope my theory is right.

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