You won’t see much two-minute drill practice here.
Now we have arrived at the final “Leave No Doubt” Game Day and the kids who will be playing in it are safely tucked away in their beds, I have a confession to make: I do not have a good feeling about this game and I usually have a good feeling about every Temple football game.
No predictions, but this has all of the makings of an ambush. Without a doubt, I feel Temple is the better team in this matchup with Toledo (7 p.m., ESPN) but we all know that the better team doesn’t always win. Just ask Alabama after its loss to Mississippi.
There are other factors, like psychological ones, that have to go into the equation. To me, Toledo sees Temple as a team from a better conference that it could make its season with a win against. I don’t think the feeling is reciprocal from Temple’s end. A lot of things have already made Temple’s season, like tying a school record for wins (10), an extended run in the national top 25, a win over a Power 5 in-state rival (Penn State) and an appearance in a league championship game. Toss in Game Day showing up, the top TV-rated game of the Saturday night season, which featured a close loss to a NY6 iconic team, Notre Dame, and you’ve crammed 134 years of Temple accomplishments into three months.
Toledo had a short stay in the top 25, no parallel win over an in-state Power 5 rival (beating Ohio State would have been the Rockets equivalent), no school record for wins and no appearance in a league championship game. No national TV and no Lee Corso, either. To Toledo, Temple is big, bad Temple and, to Temple, Toledo is just a team from a conference the Owls used to play in before being “promoted.”
New Toledo coach Jason Candle will want to prove to his administration that their confidence in hiring an unproven assistant was well-founded. Temple coach Matt Rhule has nothing to prove to the Temple administration, which already has full confidence in him.
Stir in the Temple season motto “Leave No Doubt” and there is some added doubt. That motto was born in a post-season meeting when the Owls were told they would not be awarded a bowl appearance despite being bowl eligible. Kenny Harper told his teammates to leave no doubt about a bowl invitation next year by their play on the field during the regular season. Harper forgot to make up a slogan for the team when it got to the bowl.
You have to wonder, at least subliminally, if the team is just satisfied by appearing in a bowl. One way to artificially change the mindset would be by, say, a surprise onsides’ kick on the opening kickoff that would say, “Hey, we’re here to win this.” That might get everybody pumped up. Passing out pickle juice in the heat might also help.
I just hope I’m being a worry wart and I’m as wrong as Donald Trump ends up being after his “facts” are checked. Yeah, that might be it. We should find out long before the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella season.
Tomorrow: Game Analysis