Brandon does a great job here encapsulating the fan experience in Annapolis. Just look at the amount of Cherry in this video and double it tomorrow.
A little over a year ago, linebacker Tyler Matakevich set the agenda for this season much like a running back named Kenny Harper set it the year prior.
Fighting back the tears, Matakevich said this was not the way he pictured the way his Temple career would end and that his biggest message to the seniors was that they had to do whatever was necessary to ensure that what happened to him did not happen to them. Leave No Doubt was Harper’s plea to Matakevich’s group about an appearance in a bowl game.
Matakevich raised those stakes with the next group, so Unfinished Business was born as the slogan of choice for the 2016 season.
So far, they have taken care of business by returning to the championship game and doing what Matakevich and his teammates were not able to do and that was to win it this time.
Now only one checkmark is left on the “to-do” list and that is win the bowl game tomorrow (3:30, ESPN) against Power 5 member Wake Forest. The teams have two common foes, with both Wake (21-13) and Temple (28-13) losing at home to Army. The other foe is Tulane, who the Owls beat, 31-0, on the road, and Wake struggled for a 7-3 win at home.
Since the Army result was pretty much the same, the Tulane result probably is one of the main reasons why the Owls are 12-point favorites now. Still, the Demon Deacons (6-6) have done some other things that deserve respect, including beating Syracuse, 28-9, and winning at Duke and Indiana. The Owls do not have much of an opportunity to pick up Power 5 wins, and this is one of them in a conference they feel they are a better fit for than the AAC.
While they appear to be blocked from upward mobility for at least a few years, they want to be able to establish a brand in front of a league audience that does not get to see them play much.
More importantly, they want to complete the most impressive trifecta in Temple football history—a league championship, a school-record 11 wins and a top 25 finish. While the 1979 team that finished No. 17 in the country probably will remain the most high-profile Owls’ team of all-time, this team has an outside chance of also finishing in the top 20.
The question is how much will losing their head coach means psychologically, physically, and game plan wise against a stable coaching staff? The guess here is at least a little but not enough for Wake Forest to overcome a significant talent advantage on both sides of the ball. Plus, there should be enough crazy loud Cherry and White fans to help carry them across the Finished Business line. Matt Rhule deserves credit for permitting Phil Snow to help Ed Foley and the kids close this thing out.
The legacy that this group could set for generations at Temple should be enough to turn last year’s tears into smiles that will last a lifetime.
Wednesday: Game Analysis