Last year’s Temple vs. Tulsa highlights …
Walk into a bar on any given Saturday as a Temple fan, even in Philadelphia, and the drill has become a familiar one over the last half-century, maybe before that.
Between fighting the Penn State fans and the fraud Notre Dame subway alumni and the front-running Alabama fans, you’d be lucky to get someone to put on the Temple football game somewhere on the side with no one to watch but you. Forget about asking for the sound to be turned up, either.
Not tonight (7:30, ESPN).
The whole college football world will be watching with the sound blasting in every bar from the Northeast corner of Maine to the farthest western island in the Hawaii chain. My guess is that the crowd would have been in excess of 30K if the Owls took care of business against Villanova and Buffalo in addition to winning against Maryland. Instead, the hit from those two disappointing games will be around 8K so expect an announced crowd in the 22K range. Anything more would be a bonus.
While those die-hards like us will be there, this, though, in a made-for-TV affair like most Temple home games. The difference this time is the Owls will have a captive audience and can enhance their brand with a big win.
OK, sure, there will be an NFL game on but, hey, it’s the Jets and Cleveland which leaves most of the TVs on Temple and Tulsa.
So this is a big opportunity for Temple to establish that the Maryland game was no fluke and to prove what the rest of the team believes: That the Owls who dominated a 2-0 Big 10 team who beat Texas are the team fans should have seen from Day One.
A convincing win over Tulsa would be step two in restoring a damaged brand because so many people who otherwise not ever watch a Temple game will be there—either on the couch or in local establishments—watching.
More importantly, all of the Owls’ preseason goals are still on the table. The No. 1 goal has been to win the league championship and, to do that, the Owls will probably have to win all the AAC games they are favored in plus grab at least one win against UCF or USF(those two could cancel each other out).
It will not be easy because this is a Tulsa team that hung with Texas (28-21) in Austin before losing to Arkansas State by essentially the same score (29-20) at home the next week but winning a championship is never easy.
If the Owls play the way they did the first two games, they could easily lose this one. If the Owls play the way they played last week, there is no reason to believe they can’t win by at least a similar score against Tulsa.
To me, on the list of reasons why the Owls lost their first two games right at the top was the refusal to run the ball against a horrid run defense (Buffalo) and an FCS team that gave up 45 points against Towson. The Owls committed to the run behind a blocking lead back against Maryland and that opened up the passing game for Anthony Russo. That’s the way they won 20 games in two years and the way they can still accomplish the goals set for this year.
The Owls will play a lot of games after tonight but, chances are, this will be the most eyeballs on them in any of them even including a possible bowl. This is their big chance to make a good impression.
Tomorrow: Game Analysis