You kind of got the idea that this was a big game no later than the second Temple beat Navy a week ago. Temple was unbeaten in the AAC East. Cincy was ranked nationally and unbeaten overall.
What you weren’t all that sure of is how the Temple fans would embrace it until the morning of the game.
Lot K filled up by 8:30 and the adjacent lot (M)–which was almost totally empty for the last home game–was filled by 9:30.
Temple fans brought not only their bodies but the noise when it mattered the most. When Anthony Russo hit Branden Mack for the touchdown that tied the game with less than a minute left, the sound for the next 15 minutes was pretty much deafening:
“DEFENSE!!! DEFENSE!!! DEFENSE!!!”
All 33,026 fans–at least the 26,000 or so that were in the stadium at the time–were standing for the entire crunch time and the Temple kids fed off the noise.
Of course, that was when Temple was on defense for the final seconds of regulation and the entire overtime. Russo’s penchant for amnesia served him well, shaking off a bad play with making the plays when it counted in a 24-17 overtime win.
It was a big win for Temple in a number of ways. This was the first time in Temple history that it was FAVORED over a ranked team, the first time it beat a ranked team (as a favorite) and the first overtime win in school history (losing at Cincy and twice at LFF).
Temple started the game with some pretty good runs by Jager Gardner but abandoned that approach probably too quickly. It would have been nice to see what Gardner could do following Rob Ritrovato through the hole, but Temple offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude has so many offensive weapons and so little knowledge on how best to use them (hint: run the ball with a fullback and use play-action passing as the staple) it’s beyond perplexing.
It’s something that needs to be fixed going forward, but head coach Geoff Collins seems to have a blind spot when it comes to Patenaude so maybe it will have to take some gentle persuasion from the powers-that-be in the offseason to convince Collins he needs a new OC. It seems to me that a system that worked in consecutive double-digit win seasons with a lot of these same players should never be tinkered with in the first place.
As it is, there is too much talent on the offensive side of the football for this to be the No. 89 offense in the nation.
Meanwhile, the kids on the field deserve most of the credit for this positive result with a big assist to the kids and adults in the stands who also brought their A games.
Monday: Fizzy’s Corner
Tuesday: 5 Bye Week Objectives
Thursday: Shallow Now