As Central Florida found out this season, nothing makes a statement for a Group of Five program than a win or two over Power 5 teams.
The first statement—a 38-10 win on the road over a Maryland team which beat Texas (which beat USC)—was impressive enough, but beating an Auburn team that beat the both Alabama and Georgia took it to another level.
Not enough to finish in the top four, but a statement on the way to an unbeaten season nonetheless.
Temple, in its own way, has a path to such a statement by wins against the aforementioned Maryland team and Steve Addazio’s Boston College squad.
Hard, but doable.
That’s what sets the 2018 season apart from the 2017.
The Owls play both Maryland and Boston College and, with those wins and a win over a Power 5 team in a bowl game, would restore a brand closer to what Matt Rhule left after a pair of 10-win seasons than the hit that took a slight hit with a 7-6 one in Geoff Collins’ first season.
If the Owls will be, as Collins has said, a “ridiculous” team next year, there is no reason to believe they can’t pull those two wins off. I assume Collins means ridiculously good because he talks the kids’ lingo. Call me skeptical about the Owls replacing two great wide receivers, two good edge rushers and an 3/4s of a defensive secondary. Losing the “best fullback in the country” probably not will be as devastating as I thought it was going to be four months ago because the Owls’ brain trust did not use him over the last two months.
Maryland made it a lot harder by hiring former Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater. Taver Johnson, the Owls’ current coordinator, doesn’t have a resume approaching Heater’s—the last Temple DC to post consecutive shutouts and a guy who Urban Meyer called a “Miracle Worker” leading the defense of his 2010 Florida Gator national championship team.
Boston College, despite a solid season last year, could be a relatively easier nut to crack simply because of the matchups. BC lost to a Syracuse team that lost to Middle Tennessee State, so anything is possible. Any Temple fan will tell you that Addazio’s affinity for the run game borders on obsession and Temple, if anything, should have a good run-stopping defense next year and be vulnerable to the pass. If Daz follows the pattern he set at Temple—run, run, sack, punt—the Owls should be in good shape. Still, Boston College won five of its last six games to earn a Pinstripe Bowl bid.
So there are signs that this is probably not the Daz we know and hate.
Either way, both Maryland and BC add some spice to a schedule that has been peppered with too many Stony Brooks and Villanovas over the last couple of years.
Scheduling P5 teams is one thing but, if you are going to schedule them, you might as well follow Central Florida’s lead and go ahead and beat them.
Wednesday: Commitment Issues
Friday: Housecleaning Questions