If Friday’s game with Cincinnati comes down to a kick, no one will be surprised.
The Owls are 2.5-favorites and many of their past games against the Bearcats have involved a kick.
The Owls have a great kicker in Aaron Boumerhi, who already has the pressure of a game-winning OT kick under his belt this year against Villanova.
If past games with Cincinnati are a yardstick, it just might come down to the length of a leg.
Field goals have played a big role in the series, which Temple leads, 12-7-1.
Probably the most famous kick came in the series only tie, 17-17, on Oct. 29, 1977.
A year earlier, Temple coach Wayne Hardin eschewed an extra-point attempt by kicker Wes Sornisky in an attempt to beat Penn State on the final play of the game. The two-point conversion pass went off the hands of the Temple receiver and the Owls lost, 31-30.
“A tie is like kissing your sister,” Hardin said afterward. “I felt the kids came too far and deserved the chance to win.”
Facing a similar situation the next season at Nippert Stadium, Hardin went for the tie, a 33-yard field goal by Sornisky.
It was good and the teams walked off the field with a 17-17 tie. It was Cincinnati’s second 17-17 tie that year. The Bearcats tied Louisville in an earlier game.
Afterward, a famous photo of Sornisky, who ironically wore No. 17, was published with him whispering something in Hardin’s ear.
“I asked him if this was like kissing your sister,” Wes said.
Those were pretty strange days. Now nobody gets to play for three hours and come away with a result that is pretty much like not even having played the game at all.
It was probably like kissing your half-sister from Temple’s point of view because the Owls came from down 11 points in the fourth quarter to get in a position for a tie. That year, Cincinnati lost by two points to a Maryland team that finished No. 13 in the nation.
Sornisky was a great kicker for Hardin, who helped the Owls set what was then an NCAA record for consecutive extra points (106) that was snapped earlier that season.
Another kick that factored into a memorable Temple vs. Cincy game came in 1974.
The Owls had a nation’s best 14-game winning streak and Don Bitterlich, who still holds the school record for longest field goal (56). A Cincy field goal ended that long winning streak, 16-15.
Temple also won the 1978 game on a field goal, 16-13.
Missed field goals also factored into the 2003 game. That game, on a Saturday night at unbeaten 13-point favorite Cincinnati, featured missed field goals from 37 and 24 yards by the Owls’ kicker. Temple, with a 24-10 fourth quarter lead, threw a bomb on 2nd and 2. Incomplete, of course. The Owls also threw three passes when they had a first-and-goal on the Cincinnati 2.
INCOMPLETE, of course, and the missed kicks had everything to do with a 30-24 double-overtime loss.
Now if the Owls can just put Boumerhi in a position to win, they’ve got to feel good about their chances.
The last time they were 2.5-point favorites, though, they won, 34-10.
To me, that would be the result I would most get a kick out of now.
Tomorrow: Cincinnati Preview