Rod Carey knows how to do two things:
Lose bowl games.
Beat Big 10 teams.
He’s 0-7 in bowl games.
He’s 5-2 against the Big 10.
Even one of the two losses to the Big 10 was a 20-13 loss to 12-1 Ohio State in 2015.
Presumably, in all seven of those games (not the bowl ones) Carey was working at a huge talent disadvantage.
That bodes well for Carey and the Temple Owls some 50 days from now in the opener at Rutgers.
Bum Phillips might have said it best of Don Shula in 1979: “He can take his ‘um and beat your ‘um.”
That’s the ultimate compliment for a head coach, meaning he can take his players from either team and win the game.
Really, though, how much more talent does Rutgers have than Temple, considering the Owls beat Maryland, 20-17, two years ago for Carey’s last win against the Big 10 and later in the same year Maryland took Rutgers to the woodshed, 48-7?
It usually takes a long time for entire rosters to be recycled out of programs and that’s even the case with the transfer portal. There are enough Temple playmakers from the 2019 team to contribute in 2021.
So Carey is going to have to work whatever magic he did in that win over Maryland, plus beating an 8-5 Iowa team in 2013 (30-27), plus Purdue (55-24) that same year, Northwestern (23-15) in 2014 and Nebraska (21-17) in 2017. All the games except Maryland were on the road and all, including Maryland, came in September.
Carey knows something about putting the several months he gets to prepare for more talented opponents to good use.
The good news for Temple fans is that the core members of the NIU staff who made their fortune beating the Big 10 are still in place at Temple.
You have to assume that even this version of Temple has more talent than most of the NIU squads Carey took to Big 10 stadiums. Plus, this group at Rutgers isn’t as talented as Iowa in 2013 nor Maryland in 2019. NIU was a double-digit underdog in all four of its Big 10 wins under Carey and Temple will be probably a double-digit underdog at Rutgers.
Carey has been saying for 10 months now that COVID beat Temple in 2020 more than the six opponents did.
He gets his best chance to back up that statement on Sept. 2.
The fact that he has a pretty good history against the Big 10 provides some level of comfort and the mindset around here will change quickly if he proves his point that night.
We’ll worry about the bowl record later.
Friday: New Beginnings