Walking around like a Zombie at the season-ticket holder party back in August, one of the Temple players make a 40-yard beeline for me, shook my hand, and said: “Hey, thanks for coming.”
Chapelle Russell might or might not have known who I was (kind of doubt it), but I had to get something off my chest and he was the first Temple player I could talk to at the time.
“I can’t believe how many people are saying on social media that this is a six-win team,” I told him. “This is at least a nine-win team. At least.”
“We know it,” Russell said.
Now the path is clear to nine wins, even though this is an awfully strange way of getting there. (I figured they would split the Power 5 games, lose at Houston and UCF and win the rest.)
After beating Houston, 59-49, on Saturday night, the path to a nine-win season is as wide open as the holes the young offensive line was making for Ryquell Armstead. Beat reeling USF on Saturday, then beat putrid UConn on the final day of the regular season and then beat somebody like Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl or give some SEC team a seventh loss in the Birmingham Bowl.
I doubt the Owls go back to Florida again because they’ve been there and done that. Because of their TV market, I would love to see them get a chance at a Penn State-type in another bowl if the AAC can sell Temple as an at-large team in for an open spot in a more high-profile bowl (a long shot, I admit).
Whatever, we know they are going to a bowl now and it’s up to them how good the bowl will be.
The only way to get there is to continue doing what they’ve done so far since Anthony Russo has taken over as the quarterback–try to go 1-0 every week. In the USF week, the Owls can’t worry about the eighth or ninth win, they just have to try to get the seventh.
Then on to the eighth and so forth.
They rode Ryquell Armstead’s 29-carry, six-touchdown, 210-yard performance to a win at Houston and might have learned a valuable lesson against these spread teams. Run the ball, shorten the game by chewing up gobs of clock and using that success to make some plays in the play-action game. Houston was the first time the Owls even tried to do that since the Maryland game.
Now, with Armstead’s performance, the Owls have the all-time record holder for single rushing touchdowns in an AAC game and Montel Harris’ seven touchdowns in a 63-32 win at Army represented the most rushing touchdowns for any Big East team when the Owls were in that league.
They should feed the beast right up until that ninth win.
Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner
Thursday: USF Kryptonite (hint: it’s not the weather)
Sunday: Game Analysis