The linebacker corps is in good hands with 3 returning starters.
The bad news for all but one of the 127 teams is that nobody is going to win the national football championship like our neighbors, who shall remain nameless, won the national basketball title.
All but that one team, of course, and, at this point, it doesn’t look like it will be Temple. (However, if you want a nice $10,000 return on a measly $10 investment and believe in the Owls, sportsbook is taking bets.)
When the Owls made “Unfinished Business” their team slogan this year, they probably did not mean winning the national championship but the good news today is there is a whole list of ancillary goals that would finish the business.
It starts with the American Athletic Conference championship, which is well within reach. All the Owls have to do to secure home field, presumably against Houston, is to run the table in their seven home games and not be upset on the road. They will probably be favored at Memphis and at UConn, two of their tougher road games. They can even afford a loss at Penn State and still achieve that goal. Home field should beget a win over USF (hey, it did in 2012) and a crowd of 40,000-plus rabid Temple fans in the AAC championship game could be the difference.
What about Beyond Unfinished Business?
Even if the Owls do not reach their No. 1 goal, there are a number of ways the business conducted this season could be better than the work done last year. Winning a school-record 11 games is within reach and that’s some nice work. Beyond that, though, the AAC has seven bowl tie-ins and the team’s (and especially the administration’s) goal has to be to get the Owls in a bowl game against a Power 5 team. Last year, Owls Daily editor Shawn Pastor reported that the administration was offered the Birmingham Bowl against Auburn and a bowl in Louisiana against Virginia Tech, but turned down both offers to play near a large alumni fan base in Florida.
This year, “Unfinished Business” also means taking care of business once those offers are on the table. That means no “turning down” any of these three bowls should the Owls be offered one:
Birmingham Bowl Dec. 29, 2016
Birmingham, Ala. – vs. SEC
St. Petersburg Bowl Dec. 26, 2016
St. Petersburg, Fla. – vs. ACC
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman Dec. 29, 2016
Annapolis, Md. – vs. ACC
The other bowl tie-ins are the Miami Beach Bowl and Bahamas Bowl (both versus MAC foes), and the Boca Raton Bowl vs. Conference USA. Thanks, but no thanks. Been there, done that.
While winning the national championship would be nice, and winning the AAC the real deal, getting those 11 wins and beating a Power 5 team in a bowl would also qualify for Unfinished Business and be more than acceptable consolation prizes.
It all begins in a little over two weeks against Army and the focus then and every week hence is going to have to be laser-sharp, but this is a business deal that should be profitable.
Monday: The Next Big Red One