The path is clear to nine wins


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)

Saturday: Picks

Sunday: Game Analysis


18 thoughts on “The path is clear to nine wins

  1. Give the OC credit…good offensive scheme jamming the ball down Houston’s neck. Kids played hard. Houston is a handful as was UCF with two top tier QB’s….Surprised DC couldn’t have come up with a better scheme to slow them down, SMU did, Thacker seems lost in big games. No adjustments.

    Nevertheless great team win….revenge for the AAC Championship game.

  2. Bill, I agree. This was an impressive offense performance. Let’s hope this coaching staff is going through a similar 2 year learning curve that Coach Rhule did. Also, the patched up OL deserves a lot of credit. I’m in my late 60’s and I could’ve run for positive yardage behind that blocking. Great job guys. If they watch a replay of the TV broadcast, they’ll hear a lot of complements on how well they played.

    • This team will really miss armstead next year. I hope with this o-line we can get a RB to transfer like a montel harris next year.

  3. Mike, I couldn’t see the game, only followed it on the radio. The run game was great. Did the owls do something different, or was the Houston run defense just poor without their star?

    • they pretty much blocked the way they did at UCF; this time, only Patenaude was more committed to the run. I (and KJ and a few others here) believe that approach was the right thing to do all along. Fool’s Gold was 444 yards passing against UCF. Real Gold was 210 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns by Rock. That’s the way to finish out the season. Now we have to groom replacements for Rock. Somewhat surprised we didn’t see Jager, who I believe is the eventual immediate successor. I hope he’s not in the doghouse. No one loved to pass more than Hardin but he always said it’s better to run for 200 yards than pass for 400 and it’s one of the many reasons he’s in the College Football Hall of Fame. The ideal is to run for 200 and pass for 200 and keep the bad guys off balance and you’ve got to give Patenaude credit for doing that. So there. I give Patenaude credit when it’s due. To me, six points in the second half last week after 34 in the first cost the Owls the championship.

      • With you Mike I was down for a lot of ball games when Mr. Harden was coaching temple football run the ball and pass the ball make you a much better team but I’m a little worried about this defensive coordinator now not making adjustments at halftime

      • Recruit Saydee from Penn Charter rushed for over 200 yards yesterday. Put fifteen pounds on the kid and he’s the replacement.

      • The problem on defense was that they did not put a spy on the qb, who is as quick and fast as anyone in college football. Like Greg Ward, he’s a converted wide receiver. How do they keep finding these guys? Patenaude, not Patenfraud this week) did a good job because of his use of the h back as a blocker. Why this is not a permanent part of the offense is beyond me as is why for two straight seasons they chose the wrong guy at QB. I can understand why they went with Nutile because he was a known commodity but is was quickly clear that he was not the same guy who ended last season. I still say he got hurt and it was kept quiet. . (Nine points against Nova on O now is certainly an abomination.) They have to do the same thing on O against USF and better use a spy on their qb. . The weather could be horrendous. Joe Bastardi at said yesterday that there could be a major storm next weekend with a possibility of snow for the I-95 corridor. Hope that doesn’t come true altho if it does, USF will not want to play like East Carolina didn’t in 2015. Knew TU would win that game after seeing ECU players huddled by the Linc’s exhaust fans under the stands. Go Owls.

  4. Did anyone else fear until the final whistle that the Owls could lose this game? They made so many mistakes and the on-side kick was a real gut punch. They ended up winning but it was a long nerve wracking road to get there. hard to believe that Houston’s defense was Oliver and no one else. One would think that he would have drawn other defenders to the team.

    • This OL got better each game and will be a stud line next year! Put a touchdown waiting to happen in the backfield next year.

      Russo is a legit pro-prospect, time to invest in a real QB coach to speed and sharpen his development. The AAC is a predominately a spread league and running a two TE set is hard for most team to prepare for and defend. Right on John B.

      The key to beating spread track type teams is to hold the football and limit their possessions. A good power team will beat a good spread team everytime.

      The D has gotten torched two games in a row, I dunno why?

      CC gets credit for playing the freshmen. Usually four year starters at Temple wind up playing on Sunday. One thing Top 25 teams all have in common – they play freshmen.

      Big credit to Mike, this has always been a great blog!!

  5. We are BIG Eagles fan , so their Super Bowl win last year has me saying, OK I am now happy for awhile. They were lucky bastards last year.
    But with Temple Football, as I asked my wife, we feel more ‘devotion’ and excitement with Temple Football.
    Coaches good or bad, team good or fair we are looked into TUFB with our hearts.
    Hey there News and sports Media,;Temple – they are the Philly Area Team !
    Damn it, Comcast Sport new NBCSP name had shix hi-lites for the game.
    We don’t get CBSS cable and so I could not watch the game.
    Is there any way to see the replay for us ?

    • Because I did not feel like traveling to South Philly for the only Temple watch party I was aware of and returning via public transportation at midnight, I watched my first Temple football game from home really in a couple of years. Found myself cheering and applauding and whopping and hollering like crazy for the Owls. The next night I watched the Eagles and could not even manage a golf clap. I’ve morphed from an equal Temple/Eagle fan to a full-blown Owl fan who watches the Eagles with casual interest. Fortunately, I live in a single corner house so I did not wake the neighbors on Saturday night. Taking my rooting interest out of it, from a pure entertainment value alone the Owl game was off the charts compared to the Eagles’ game. I wish “Joe Philadelphia” could see that and switch allegiances to Temple.

    • as far as a replay, keep checking You Tube. I didn’t find a full replay for the Cincinnati game until five days later when someone posted it on You Tube. As of today, the only replay is on CBS Sports and if you don’t get that at home, you have no access to it on the internet. I was at the Eagles’ game last night and the crowd was “blah” compared to a Temple game. Yes, packed, but no organized mass cheering like I heard at the end of the Cincinnati game. LFF is no homefield advantage for the Eagles. It’s almost like Eagles’ fans have to go on the road to create a homefield advantage. It’s like bizzarro world in that regard.

    • Staying committed to the Temple Tuff brand and winning is the clear path to the heart and mind of Joe Philly. In terms of value, a Temple ticket brings it in spades.

      Be dominant at the line of scrimmage, bring the lunch pail on every snap, and just stay with it. The fans will come and embrace this program.

      Having more Temple grads in the Philly thought generation and persuasion business, commonly called the media, would also help.

      On a side note, is the OC reading this blog? I didn’t think it was in his DNA to embrace Temple Tuff.

  6. Ratings numbers for the Houston game (local, that is) will be interesting considering the other games shown around the same time….although Auburn-UGA, ND, and Clemson games were mismatches.

    • The ratings will be skewed because most people don’t get CBSSports Channel. Believe that if it had been on ESPN channels, people would have tuned in because it was the only game that was still a contest. I don’t know the ins and out of the various TV contracts and who has priority but believe that CBS likely had first choice when it came to selecting a game. . It’s hard to believe that ESPN would have turned the game down given TU’s history of good ratings on their networks.

  7. Agree with you, John. Why would ESPN want USF-Cincinnati when they can have a game in two of the top five TV markets? Unless, as you say, CBS gets first dibs.

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