For the third-straight year, Temple will enter its bowl game as a favorite.
When the Owls take the field in a week and a night at Tropicana Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN), they will be a touchdown favorite over a Florida International team that has two more wins than they do.
Last year, the Owls were 14.5 favorites over Wake Forest (and lost by eight) and two years ago they were 1.5 favorites over Toledo and lost, 32-17.
One name got in the way of the Owls hoisting a bowl trophy at the end of each season and he did not even play in either game.
The first loss, which Rhule took blame for, came as a result of going easy on his team, the expense of giving them a “reward” for a 10-win season. After that game, Rhule said he would not pull back the reins if he had another bowl chance. That could be a long time coming given his 1-11 year at Baylor and the sanctions he faces there going forward.
The second loss, which he did not take blame for, resulted from Rhule’s decision to recruit for Baylor and take most of the guts of the Temple staff with him. While that staff was on the field for the 34-26 loss to Wake, their hearts and minds were in Waco. The defensive coaches alone missed eight practices and that had to contribute to Wake’s 31-7 halftime lead.
Now this is the first “distraction-free” bowl for the Owls if new coach Geoff Collins has learned from Rhule’s first bowl experience. Vegas, which is seldom wrong, has the Owls as a solid seven-point favorite this time and, all things being equal, it should be the Owls hoisting that trophy to end the season.
Are all things equal, though?
Kirk Herbstreit picked FIU and mentioned Butch Davis as a reason on ESPN’s Game Day on Saturday. He might have something there.
In Davis, the Panthers (8-4) have a master tactician who was good enough with a clipboard in his hands to win a national championship at Miami. Will he be able to fill in enough X’s and O’s to tic-tack-toe a first-year coach who many feel is still feeling his way?
The answer comes in eight days.
Friday: A Shocking Admission
Monday: The Padre Pio Factor
Wednesday: Bowl Preview
Friday: Bowl Analysis
Christmas: Season Analysis