When late night TV wasn’t as political and arguably more funny, Johnny Carson had a few notable characters.
One of them was an infomercial guy named Art Fern who talked about forks in the road.
“How do you get there? Let me tell you friends, how do you get there! You take the San Diego Freeway to the Ventura Freeway. You drive to the Slauson Cutoff, get out of your car, cut off your Slauson, get back in your car, then you drive six miles till you see the Giant Neon Vice-Squad Cop. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Well, Saturday’s noon showdown against visiting East Carolina is the ultimate “Fork in the Road” game for Temple.
The two teams have similar records (1-5 for Temple, 1-6 for ECU) but are seemingly headed in different directions. ECU has been on an upward swing against AAC opponents, certainly more competitive than Temple has been. The Owls have slowly been on the decline and their 1-5 is considerably less impressive than the Pirates.
Everybody has COVID issues and the Owls have got to stop using that as an excuse and just win a damn game.
Consider this: In the last four games, the Owls have lost by double digits. In their last seven games of the 2019 season, the Owls lost four and three of them were by double-digits. Before now, the last time the Owls lost four consecutive games by double digits was in Steve Addazio’s final season, 2012, when they lost to Rutgers (35-10), Pitt (47-17), Louisville (45-17) and Cincinnati (34-10).
On the other hand, in two of its last three games, ECU has been more competitive than Temple in losses to some good teams–Tulsa (30-34) and Tulane (21-38) before being blown out by Cincinnati, 55-17. ECU beat South Florida by 20 and the Owls needed a miracle fumble left on the carpet to beat USF by two.
There’s no disgrace losing to Cincy, either. A lot of good teams have been blown out by the Bearcats this season and Temple won’t play Cincy until the final game next week.
Fork in the road indeed. Apparently ECU, under former James Madison head coach Mike Houston, is headed in the right direction while someone needs to tell Rod Carey Temple needs to upgrade its GPS system.
Is it any wonder, then, that the Pirates are a 3.5-favorite against a program that it has never beaten in American Conference play?
The Owls have a true freshman quarterback in Matt Duncan, but Tulane also had a true freshman quarterback and did not use that as an excuse. The Owls have rolled out two quarterbacks since Anthony Russo and, frankly, none is an acceptable AAC-level quarterback.
Duncan’s got to put the big boy pants on and lead the Owls to a win or this entire program is about to go down the wrong road and hit a wall. If they total their ride, it will be a long time before they get back on the road to respectability again.
Friday night pick: Usually never go for a 32.5-point favorite, but really like a solid FAU Owls’ squad to lay the wood on UMass.
Saturday picks: Coastal Carolina laying the 6.5 against visiting App. State, Liberty getting the 3.5 at NC State, and Georgia State laying 3 at South Alabama.
Update: Evened the season record at 3-3 by going 2-1 against the spread. FAU easily covered the 8.5 as did Wisconsin the 3.5. Only loss was Nebraska beating PSU. LT and Rice postponed due to COVID. Record this week: 2-1. Overall: 3-3.
Late Saturday Night: Game Analysis