Matchups are supposed to mean more to the Temple basketball Owls, who open tonight (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network) against preseason No. 1 North Carolina than the Temple football Owls, who will be that network’s prime time show tomorrow night.
Don’t pretend to know what the basketball matchups are, but I will venture to say that the football matchups favor the Owls against host South Florida on Saturday night. The Owls, like USF, are a running team who pass well off play action. Unlike USF, though, the Owls have a dominating defense capable of shutting down the best running backs in the nation.
USF sophomore Marlon Mack is certainly that, but ask yourself honestly: Is he better than Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise? No. The Owls held Prosise (pronounced PRO SIZE) to just 46 yards on 12 carries. Does USF have a quarterback with 1/10th the talent of DeShone Kizer? Err, that would also be a negative.
South Florida is good, but it would seem in many areas its strengths are more than negated on the other side of the ball by Temple’s strengths. If Temple can stop Prosise, it can certainly stop Mack and force the Bulls to throw the ball, where they will have to face a defensive pass rush that sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg 10 times. Temple has the only player in America with two pick 6s in Sean Chandler and, in Tavon Young, it arguably has a better corner manning the other side.
The fine line the Owls will have to walk on Saturday is a psychological one. They know that this game is for a championship, albeit an AAC East one, and they have never entered a game with that kind of mindset. On the other hand, they have played in what the newspapers called “the biggest game in Temple football history” (Notre Dame) and acquitted themselves well. They lifted the 800-pound, 74-year-old Gorilla called Penn State off their backs and THEN won a more meaningful game the next week at Cincinnati, jumping out to a 34-12 fourth-quarter lead.
They did all of that knowing that the hashtags #LeaveNoDoubt and #What’sNext have a special meaning only they understand fully. It’s a fine line they will be walking on Saturday night, but they’ve walked similar lines like Karl Wallenda and still managed to get to the other side.
There is no reason to believe they are going play like anyone other than the champions they have been all season.
The Bad Guys Are Confident, Too: