Matt Rhule says the Owls can regroup and make a run for the AAC title. I pray he’s right and we’re wrong.
Just when they lost me, they reeled me back in on Saturday.
No, not the Temple Owls, who lost a game they should have won that day, but two groups of guys who played later in the day who might have proven Temple is a little better than I expected.
The Army West Point Knights and the Stony Brook Seawolves, who opened some eyes with pretty shocking performances a few hours after most Owl fans were bummed by the result in State College. They indicated that Temple might have played two very good teams before a subpar effort against PSU.
Army won at UTEP, 66-19, while Stony Brook took down No. 2 FCS Richmond, 42-14. Both were impressive wins for a number of reasons. Army was unstoppable on the road at a FBS team that won by 15 over another FBS team, New Mexico State, two weeks ago. Stony Brook, a team that was shut out by Temple, scored 42 points on a team that beat Power 5 Virginia, 37-20, in the first week of the season on the road. (UConn beat Virginia by a field goal on Saturday.)
So any recalibration of TEMPLE expectations has to include the total body of work, including the Army and Stony Brook games. There is also the distinct possibility that Penn State, Stony Brook and Army all finish with very good years so that has to be factored into a Temple recalibration.
First the bad news because going into this season, I wrote that this was the team that had the best chance of breaking the Temple school record of 10 wins and finish with 11 wins. I wrote that expectation should be the MINIMUM expectation, with the maximum expectation that the team achieve its own stated goal of “Unfinished Business” which, to them, meant winning the overall AAC title.
I don’t think that is going to happen, not just based on the first three Temple games but because Houston has separated itself from the rest of the league. For Temple to get to 11 wins, it would have to win out and I also do not think that is going to happen, either.
Now, the good news because this season can still be a success if the Owls can get to 10 wins again including a bowl win over a P5 team and that remains a realistic possibility. Hell, if that P5 team is Penn State, I will sign for that game now.
Here’s how I see the rest of the season playing out:
Saturday: Temple 48, Charlotte 7. Charlotte is not only worse than Stony Brook, it is much worse. Charlotte allowed 70 points to Louisville and, while that is no disgrace, being beaten by Eastern Michigan, 37-19, is.
10/1: Temple 35, SMU 21. The Mustangs struggled to beat Jerry Falwell’s school, Liberty, on Saturday. No amount of praying will help them against Temple. 3-2.
10/6: Temple 21, Memphis 14. I had this as a win prior to the season, as a loss after Penn State and now as a win after the Army and Stony Brook results, but it is not going to be easy on the road. Memphis beat Kansas, which is probably a whole lot worse than Penn State and Army. 4-2.
10/15: Temple 28, UCF 19. This won’t be the blowout it was against an 0-12 UCF team last year, but if UCF can go from 0-12 to beat a 10-win Temple team, the Owls have got more problems than I think they do. 5-2.
10/21: South Florida 31, Temple 27. South Florida is, quite simply, a better team than Penn State and Phil Snow has two blind spots in his rear view mirror—the triple option and the dual-threat quarterback. Unless he spies Champ Chandler on Quinton Flowers, he is about to move into that left lane and get clobbered by that Mack Truck. Since Snow never follows our advice, mark USF down as a loss and no AAC title game this year. 5-3. (USF beat Syracuse by 22 and a poor NIU team, 48-17.)
10/29: Temple 24, Cincinnati 17. Tommy Tuberville is beginning to show his coaching age with some strange calls on the field. The Owls will take this into the fourth quarter and finish him off. 6-3. (Cincy beat Purdue, but was hammered by Houston, 40-16.)
11/4: Temple 36, UConn 10: Temple beat Stony Brook, 38-0, which beat Richmond, 42-14. Richmond beat Virginia, 37-20. UConn beat Virginia, 13-10. While you usually cannot go on comparative scores, those margins are so stark they show there is a huge talent and speed gap between the Owls and the Huskies. UConn also barely beat a Maine team (in OT) that lost to Toledo, 45-3. 7-3. (UConn also lost to Navy in a close one.)
11/19: Temple 10, Tulane 3: Unless the Owls party hard on Bourbon Street, the defense shuts the Green Wave down. 8-3. (Tulane lost to Navy, 21-14.)
11/26: Temple 24, East Carolina 21: Not easy, but the Owls finish strong. 9-3. (East Carolina beat North Carolina State and lost to South Carolina.)
Since I do not think it will be good enough to even get in the championship game, the best the Owls can do is win the bowl game they are assigned to—they probably will not get a choice—and finish with consecutive 10-win season.
I hope they prove me wrong and run the table, and at least host the AAC title game, but concerns on the offensive and defensive lines make me doubt they will ever finish the Unfinished Business they had in mind when they thought of that slogan.
Wednesday: The End of An Era
Friday: A Meh Homecoming