5 Under-The-Radar Temple wins


Outstanding job of painting the end zones at Temple Stadium in this game against West Virginia in 1972

Hat tip to Rutgers’ fan and follower of this blog Joe P. for this idea.

When something you love is likely almost a year away from kickoff, the chances are you are going to run out of ideas for a post now and then.


The empty area in an otherwise full Temple Stadium is where the band sat in 1972.

This is one of those nows and a couple of weeks ago Joe threw out the then part because on the RU fan site they were talking about wins under-the-radar that were on impressive when thinking about it but maybe not as much at the time.

We’re going to toss out the bowl wins, the championship wins, and, most importantly, in my mind, the biggest win–getting that 74-year-old Penn State monkey off our backs in 2015.

Those wins were so on the radar the screen cracked.

These are five in my mind that are very impressive in the context of history and how the teams the Owls beat finished, so they rate right up in there in the under-the-radar category.

Temple 39, West Virginia 36 (1972)

Before a Saturday night crowd of 14,854 (capacity 20,000) in the old Temple Stadium, the Owls beat West Virginia. That was important because it came only the second year after Wayne Hardin was charged with taking Temple from what was essentially FCS status (playing teams like Xavier and Delaware) to big-time status. The late Paul Loughran returned two punts for scores and West Virginia was a big-time team, losing to NC State in the Peach Bowl at the end of that season.  It set up a terrific 1973 season for the Owls.

Temple 34, Boston College 7 (1974)

The Owls were coming off a 9-1 season in 1973 but that lone blemish stuck out like a sore thumb, a 45-0 loss at Boston College. The Owls got revenge the next season in a big way as a crowd of 17,988 turned out on a Saturday afternoon at Temple Stadium and almost reversed the score. The Owls would go on to win 14-straight games over two years, the longest winning streak in the nation at that point. That BC team Temple dominated finished 8-3 and beat Navy (37-0), Villanova (55-7) and Syracuse (35-0).

Temple 49, Syracuse 17 (1979)

Syracuse had future NFL Hall of Famers Art Monk (Washington Redskins) and Joe Morris (New York Giants) and a future NFL quarterback (Bill Hurley) but the Owls had Sherman “Tank” Myers, who scored five touchdowns. The Owls rallied from a 14-0 deficit to score 49 of the game’s next 52 points. Syracuse was no joke that year, beating West Virginia, Northwestern, Miami (Fla.), and a 7-4 Navy team by the score of 30-14 but the Owls had their number at Veterans Stadium that night. ‘Cuse also beat 11-1 McNeese State, 34-7, in the Independence Bowl.

Temple Owls Bruce Arians


Temple 13, Pitt 12 (1984)

A Jim Cooper Sr. field goal was the game-winner and the Owls broke a 42-year losing streak to Pitt at Veterans Stadium. When Bruce Arians beat the NFL Super Bowl representative Seattle Seahawks, a reporter in the post-game that day asked him if that was his biggest win. Arians didn’t flinch: “No, my biggest win was beating Pitt for the first time in 42 years at Temple.”  The Owls finished 6-5 against what was then the No. 10-toughest schedule in the country.  That Pitt team would beat Penn State, 31-11, in State College later that year.

Bernard Pierce

Temple 27, Navy 24 (2009)

One of the Owls nine wins that season came on the road at 10-win Navy, 27-24, as Bernard Pierce ran for 267 yards and two touchdowns. That Navy team beat Notre Dame, 23-21, and clobbered an outstanding Missouri team, 35-13, in the Texas Bowl. James Nixon took a kickoff to the house as Matt Falcone provided not one but two downfield blocks that sprung the 4.3-40 Nixon. Temple would finish 9-4 and lose to UCLA in the Eagle Bank Bowl, 30-21.

Those were just five off the top of my head, but in the honorable mention category has to be the 28-14 win over Bowling Green to break a 20-game losing streak in 2006, especially sweet since the Falcons had dropped 70 points on the Owls in the two consecutive years before that. Also, the 1986 win over Peach Bowl-bound Virginia Tech in Norfolk was especially satisfying since the Hokies finished 9-2-1 that year and the Owls clubbed them, 29-16.

Nothing that happened in the Dark Ages (Jerry Berndt, Ron Dickerson, and Bobby Wallace) was especially gratifying. Yes, the Owls were a 36.5-point underdog and won at Virginia Tech, but losing at home to William and Mary the next week nullified that one. Since we brought up Rutgers earlier, beating them in Piscataway the year they beat Penn State was especially gratifying in that rivalry.

Those are mine. I’m sure there are some I missed but I will blame it on the CORVID mania.

Friday (5/8): Smoking Out the Winner

Monday (5/11): Virtual Press Conference

Friday (5/15): Recruiting Patterns

Monday (5/18): Suspending Campaigns


24 thoughts on “5 Under-The-Radar Temple wins

  1. If you did a list of unfathomable and heartbreaking TU losses, the piece would rival War and Peace in length.

  2. Every time I read something about Wayne Hardin, I scratch my head and marvel at what he did at TU. I know it doesn’t need to be said to the readers of this blog but I’ll do it just the same: “What a great coach.”

    • Pure genius. Never got beat by 55-13, 45-21 or 63-21 in the same year. Occasionally would get beat 76-0 once but it would not be a multiple-type occurrence in any year. His schemes to beat people with much more talent than him were off the charts clever. Was not 50 years ahead of his time; more like 100.

      • Coach Hardin was very good but in 1981 he lost 30-0, 49-3, and 35-0 to PSU, Georgia, and Pitt all great teams that year. In 1977, he lost 38-16, and 44-7 and in 1975 there were losses of 50-7 and 55-6. Like all TU coaches, he had multiple beatings during those seasons.

      • Difference, though, is that Temple got two beatings from teams in their own league. PSU, Georgia, Pitt were really all out of Temple’s league back then, if not literally that certainly figuratively. It’s a miracle the Owls were close so many times.

  3. Following the West Virginia win in 1972, TU lost to Boston University in an upset. Typical Temple loss.

  4. I find it interesting and probably not coincidental that two of these five were in front of a partisan pretty much packed in Temple home crowd, not the dispersed version of a home crowd we have seen in almost 50 years of playing in an NFL stadium. We’d have an even better home-field advantage in an on-campus Temple Stadium, not a Temple Stadium seven miles away. Wonder if the administration has fully given up on the idea? Sad.

    • Unfortunately, I think that not only is the stadium a dead item but frankly so is the college model which has been shown by the virus to be a waste of money and resources. Many schools are operating on a shoestring budget and lack an endowment to weather the loss of a continuous stream of income. I can see sports being an after thought at too many schools once things begin to get back to normal. The BC game in 1974 was a hell of a game and the crowd was great. Once BC was behind the crowd took the fight out of them.

    • Yeah, that probably should have made the cut since the Owls finished 7-4 that year. Tried to forget about Berndt, though. The players deserved better than him.

  5. I’m getting old now and I need someone to verify the TU vs PennState game I saw at the old VET, in the 70’s where we ALMOST beat PSU.
    That game had Hardin Temple punting 3rd downs and PSU didn’t believe it.
    Why did we lose that one, bad luck? It was close.
    I went there with buddy PSU fans, and already I liked Temple because they were the home town team.

    • Bascially, talent. That PSU team was No. 1 in the country up until the defacto National championship game with No. 2 Alabama at the Sugar Bowl. That PSU team beat West Virginia (49-21), Maryland (27-3) but Hardin found a game plan to keep the Owls in the game until the fourth quarter. If you can extend the game, you can find a way to win in the fourth quarter. There is a way for Temple to do that even today. Power running game and throwing off play fakes but Rod Carey is stubborn with this RPO shit.

    • I was at this game and remember the frustrating ending. Luckily we had some “Bicentennial” Schmidt’s cans with us to drown our sorrows. I tell my son how we we wore bell bottoms and then you would put 2 cans in each sock and walk into the Vet. A trip to Roger Wilco the night before a game to “legally” purchase our beverages, and then recruit some non drinkers to ensure we had enough for the game. Now when we meet before a game we need to park close to the Port-A-Potties!!! Great memories. This is from a PSU sight ….

      1976 — Penn State 31, Temple 30
      In a second straight neutral-site game, this time at Veterans Stadium, the game came down to a last-second effort from Temple. The Owls drove down field with two minutes left and looked stuck on the goal line with almost no time left and the clock running. Then, the officials called a timeout after a spectator ran on the field. Temple then scored a touchdown on the next play and went for the two-point conversion and the win. The pass went awry, and Penn State lived to fight another day.

      • Still say Wiley Pitts’ arm was held on the 2-point conversion pass. Refs swallowed the whistle.

      • Steve, in 76, TU scored with the guy still in the end zone and two refs pushing him away. Game should have never restarted until the guy was off the field. In 75 TU was the better team except for special teams. Kickoff and punt returns killed the Owls. Here are 76 highlights. Hardin got greedy and should have kicked the extra point. For TU, a tie would have been a win. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwHlsgWFE-o

  6. Absolutely should have been a penalty!

  7. Glad you liked the topic…couple of quick observations:

    -As a Rutgers fan, if ‘Underrated Rutgers Victories’ were a book, it would be a fantastic mid-length novel; if ‘Gut-wrenching Rutgers Losses were a book, it would probably be an unabridged dictionary or the Yellow Pages.

    -IIRC your VT win in 1998 came after the William & Mary loss, which made the win just that much more unlikely (that game was the same weekend as Rutgers @ Pitt my freshman year at RU; it was the first weekend I had gone home since I started and was watching RU/ Pitt on ESPNPlus (was being shown on channel 9 in northern NJ with RU winning 25-21 after being down 21-7 at the half). I remember seeing VT 17- TU 0 on the ticker at one point. I was watching games with my Dad later that night and we saw TU 28-VT 24 FINAL come up on the ticker; we both turned and looked at each other as if a UFO just flew across the screen and I said to him, ‘did we just see that right?’ I know younger fans may not ‘get it’ but in ’98 there’s no smartphones, no WiFi, and we were still on dial-up Internet at home…it wasn’t until we saw the score get repeated and the game get talked about on Sportscenter that we actually believed it.). You ended up sandwiching wins @VT and @Pitt around a Halloween loss @RU (21-10).

    -I was watching the 2014 RU season opener, a late game at Washington State (one of my favorite underrated RU wins; a 41-38 thriller that ended up setting the state for a solid inaugural B1G season) and can remember catching pieces of TU-Vandy @Vandy where you fellas were just taking Vandy to the woodshed (I think you ended up winning 37-7); I remember thinking Rhule might have turned a bit of a corner and maybe just sent an early message he was going to be a force to be reckoned with.

    Joe P.

    • Joe P, Really appreciate your comments and insight about TU football. Personally I think TU and Rutgers is a natural rivalry and should be an every year event, no matter which conferences we’re each in. That VT win (this is to Mike) regardless of the William&Mary loss is one of Temple’s best ever – Tech was highly ranked, TU sucked but held VT on the last play that would have won it for them. Hard to beat that for drama. Oh, and that win over Vandy was a reversal in score of the previous TU-Vandy game when Vandy clubbed us down there, a game I had the opportunity to attend. A Nashville friend and I sat in front of the huge dad of a TU O-line player who himself had previously played O-line for TU and showed us his Super Bowl ring. I don’t remember his name – any guesses? Also that 85-14(?) win at Temple Stadium over Bucknell (?) way back when was a game to remember too.

      • No problem John; over the years I would sporadically check the boards of other local teams and for the most part found that if you took the school names away, the Rutgers, Pitt and TU boards were almost shockingly similar. With your ’98 VT game, I used to pick up Sports Illustrated every week at school during football season and remember that game made the Scorecard section. On paper it was just an absolutely ridiculous upset that had no business happening. VT was undefeated (5-0), at home, had a 17-0 lead in the second quarter; TU was 0-5 or 0-6, had just lost to 1-AA William & Mary, had a bunch of starters out and something like 10 freshmen in the 2-deep at that point, including your 3rd-string QB who closed the game out. I still consider that one of the greatest upsets in CFB history (with a fairly strong argument for the top spot), along with ’99 RU-cuse (0-9 Rutgers, with something like 14 starters out by that point in the year including the QB, stunned bowl champion cuse 24-21 in OT), 2006 Stanford-UC-Davis (UC Davis was a 1AA transitional program that year, meaning they were transitioning from D-II to D 1-AA…and they beat Stanford. I know Stanford was still down at that point but even so, think about that one), and 2007 Stanford-USC.

        My best friend and I always enjoy talking about topics like this (he always brings up our ’05 game against UConn, which just might actually be the linchpin moment where Coach Schiano helped Rutgers turn the corner but hardly anyone really mentions it); it’s easy to remember the ‘big wins’/ ‘big games’, but IMO it’s the ‘unsung’ games like these that help make up the fabric of our programs.

        Joe P.

  8. Sitting in my doctor’s office the other year and there was a SI special publication concerning the 20 greatest college football upsets. The TU-VPI game was one of them.

    Was at the ’75 game with PSU (Franklin Field). Casey Murphy out of Nether Providence High had a career night punting. A few third down quick kicks and regular punts had the Nitts off balance. Lost the game on two kick returns that went the distance.

    • Rich Mauti punt returns. He was to us what Paul Loughran was to WVA

      • Back then, special teams were filled with big linemen and against PSU-Hardin had all second and third team little guys on his punt and kick off teams. They were decimated by PSU. Today, those teams are mostly speed guys because coaches figured out the faster you could get to the returner the better off you are. Also, since the wedge has been outlawed on kick-offs it makes little sense to have big guys on kick returns.

    • Casey Murphy was the pride of Upper Merion. Still is.

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