Some nice 1979 highlights on this reel from ten years ago.
If you blink your eye or are just a little tardy getting to your seat tomorrow, you will miss a special Temple football moment.
Maybe the most special.
Sure, the game is as important and as high-profile as they come in this Group of Five league but what will happen during the first timeout is also a huge moment. It is the 40th-anniversary tribute to the 1979 team, a tribute we first suggested here back in the summer.
It will be a too-short tribute to a team that deserves much more, in my mind the greatest Temple team in the 100-plus year history of football at the school. Only the 1934 squad could put up an argument that it was better than the 1979 team but I will take the 1979 team all day long. First, the 1934 Sugar Bowl team lost. The 1979 bowl team won. Back then, everybody was Power 5 and Temple was in the elite of that group.
The 1979 Owls will be honored during that first timeout–probably the first five minutes of halftime would have been a better stage–and deserve a prolonged standing ovation. Consider this: Only two Temple teams since have won the same number of games (10) as that one but neither have those two teams won every game they were supposed to win.
The 1979 Owls captained by Mark Bright and Steve Conjar not only beat every team they were favored to beat but pulled a couple of upsets in a big way. They were not favored to beat Syracuse–with future NFLers’ Art Monk, Joe Morris, and Bill Hurley–but they destroyed the Orange, 49-17. They were not favored to win the Garden State Bowl but beat California, 28-17.
In between, they lost only two a pair of teams ranked at the time of those games: Pitt (10-9) and Penn State (22-7). The Owls led Penn State, 7-6, at halftime before what until that time was the largest crowd in the history of Beaver Stadium. For some reason, head coach Wayne Hardin abandoned a running game that was working to chew up clock and extend drives and went largely to a passing attack in the second half.
That was one of the few mistakes Hardin ever made as a head coach anywhere but 1979 was pretty darn close to a perfect season. With just 17 more points, that team goes 12-0 and wins the national championship because there was no G5 and P5 schism back then and it was a strong enough schedule to hand the Owls what would have been a mythical title.
Consider that: TEMPLE winning a National Championship in football. It was thisclose …
Those were the days in college football when there were no participation trophies. You had to be really good and not just one of the best 80 teams to earn a bowl bid. Only 30 teams were extended bowl invitations.
There are now 40 bowl games. In 1979, there were only 15. Temple won one of them. The Owls finished ranked No. 17 in both polls (then, UPI and AP).
While watching my Owls lose to Buffalo this year, I had one recurring thought: Another year of Temple not beating everyone it was supposed to beat.
It won’t happen this year and we are running out of time for it to happen in the coming years.
Fortunately, I lived to see one of those years. Unfortunately, I might not live to see another. (Hell, let’s hope so, though.)
It was 1979 and Temple owes these guys a debt of gratitude that definitely deserves more than a wave and a cheer during the first timeout of the first quarter. That’s what we have, though, so let’s make the most out of it.
Predictions: Was 4-2 last week against the spread (winning with Cincy beating UCF on Friday night and going 3-2 in the Saturday games). For the season, we are now 21-7 straight-up and 17-11 against the spread. This week: Taking Virginia getting 1 at Miami (cannot believe that a ranked team is a dog to a dysfunctional Manny Diaz squad tonight) and, on Saturday, I like the following (home team in CAPS): INDIANA laying the 28 against Rutgers; Maryland laying the 4 against PURDUE; Hawaii getting the 12.5 points against BOISE STATE (Temple and the AAC needs Hawaii to win that game outright); Ball State laying the 2.5 at EASTERN MICHIGAN and Cincinnati laying the 7 at HOUSTON.
Sunday: Game Analysis