There has been much speculation over the last few days about Temple fans traveling for a bowl game with Toledo and I’ve seen figures ranging from 3,000 all the way to 10,000.
There was once a time when Temple played in a bowl game away from home with Toledo and sold the place out with almost all Temple fans. The year was 1984 and, for the Centennial Celebration of Temple University, the team played a regular-season home game, called it the Boardwalk Bowl, and played it at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The school sold all 7,000 tickets to the game, but “only” just fewer than 6,000 Temple fans made the trip.
Still, it was a memorable game because Toledo came into the Nov. 30th game as the Mid-American Conference champions with an 8-1-1 record. That thing about Al Golden never beating a winning MAC team did not apply to Bruce Arians, who was 5-0 against winning MAC teams.
Arians’ 1984 team pummeled Toledo, 35-6, on the way to a 6-5 record against the then 10th-toughest schedule in the country. (By comparison, Temple’s current scheduled is rated No. 71.) One of the interesting things about that game was that Toledo’s defense was the No. 4 scoring defense in the country and gave up only 9.9 points per game. It allowed no more than 17 points in a single game before that, but Temple doubled up that figure.
Temple had a lot of exciting players on the 1984 team, one of which was a sophomore running back named Paul Palmer, who had a then career-high 148 yards. He would later top that in several more memorable games, including 349 in a 45-28 win over East Carolina in 1986.
Another was wide receiver Keith Gloster, who arguably is the fastest man ever to play for Temple. (We say arguably because you will get some arguments from Devin Hester’s cousin, Travis Sheldon, and James Nixon, who took a kickoff back for 103 yards against Navy in 2009.) Gloster caught a 74-yard bomb from Lee Saltz that appeared seriously overthrown when it left Saltz’s hand, but he was able to run under it.
As good as the offense was, the “no-name” defense was even better with too many good players to single out one or two.
In 1987, Temple visited the Glass Bowl and Toledo coach Dan Simrell called the Owls the best team to ever come into that stadium. The Owls rotated future NFL running back Todd McNair, then a junior, with sophomore Ventres Stevenson, and grinded out a 13-12 win.
No one knows how many Owl fans will be able to make the trip to Boca, but you can be certain most of Arians’ players from that 1984 team will be there as will a large group of Arians’ players from other years. That group has been tight as a fist and, while a trip to Florida will be a reward for the current Owls, it will be another chance for them to get together.