On a worry scale of 1-10 with one being not worried and 10 being eight eaten fingernails, the UCF at Temple game has to rank at about as closest to one as any other Temple game in recent memory. The 5-0 Owls are on a serious roll and the 0-6 Knights are in free fall, playing in Philadelphia before a hostile crowd of 30,000 on a cold night.
You know all about how Florida teams do in cold weather. We don’t know the actual record, but it took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about 40 years to win a game in under 50-degree weather. The temperature at kickoff tonight should be 47 degrees, which reminds me to remind you to wear gloves. It was only eight or so years ago a tailgater named Lazygoat saw me wearing gloves on the first cold day of the season and begged for them.
Like a lot of Owl fans at the first cold home game of every season, he did not come prepared. He forgot, which would have made him a great AP Top 25 voter. Since I did not have an extra pair, he spent the rest of the day blowing into his fingers. So let that be a warning.
Another warning that the Owls would be wise to heed is to put this game away early because, if there was a lesson to be learned at UMass, it was allowing a team back into a game after going up 14-0 just serves to embolden them and give them some hope to get that first win. I’m sure the 12-1 UCF team that came into Philadelphia in 2013 did not lose any sleep the night before beating Temple. Nor did the 1998 Virginia Tech team (that finished 8-2 but lost, 28-24, to then 0-6 Temple).
George O’Leary, being the smart coach he is, really has only one option and that is to rip a few pages out of UMass head coach Mark Whipple’s book and load up the box to stop the run. At that point, the Owls can do one of two things—abandon the run (not recommended) or go two tight ends and a fullback and put more helmets on their helmets and knock them back off the ball (recommended). Then pick spots for play-action passes to Robby Anderson and Co.
If P.J. Walker has to throw 48 passes again instead of a more manageable 20-30, it could be a long night. That’s not Temple football. Temple football is running the ball, hitting play-action passes, playing tough defense and great special teams.
So, like 1998, upsets can happen and that knowledge should be enough to keep it from happening. That, and adhering to the principles of #LeaveNoDoubt, which means to play every game like it is a championship one.
Tomorrow Afternoon: Complete Game Analysis
Monday: Photo Essay