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.
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 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.
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