Cincy: Temple’s Super Bowl

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One of the nation’s best prognosticators, Kyle Hunter, of Kyle Hunter’s picks, had this reaction when I told him Temple hasn’t punted in the last two weeks.

“That’s a fantastic stat, Mike, love it,” Hunter said. “E.J. Warner. You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him, apparently.”

Temple had gone 134 years punting at least once in every game. The only exception was the 110-0 win over Blue Ridge in 1927. A lot of the credit for this little bit of significant Temple football history goes to a true freshman quarterback, E.J. Warner.

“You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.”

Yeah, I know it’s a line borrowed from Michael Jordan’s days with the Chicago Bulls, but it has applied for the last two weeks.

Suppose it does so again tomorrow (4 p.m. start, ESPN U) against Cincinnati. In that case, Temple will have officially returned to relevance on the national college football scene because it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Owls don’t punt and lose to the Bearcats.

That’s because the Bearcats don’t generate much offense on their end and, in six AAC games, haven’t been able to get the kind of separation from league foes that teams like Memphis (37-13 over Navy), ECU (34-13 over UCF), SMU (77-63 over Houston) and Houston (38-20 over Navy) have done.

Even though the Bearcats are still in contention for the AAC title, their largest margin of victory was by 10 against Tulsa and Navy. They toughed out a 28-24 win over a USF team that Temple hung a 54-burger on in a 54-28 win. To their credit, they were able to beat a Navy team, 20-10, at home after the Owls lost to the same team on the road in overtime.

Considering all that, a 17-point predicted spread seems a little high and most of the smart money agrees.

On a cold, blustery day that doesn’t figure to get out of the 30s, Temple has a puncher’s chance. Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant is no more than a game manager and his downfield passing is suspect. Last week, he was only 1 for 8 in passes over 15 yards. He doesn’t have the mobility of Houston’s Clayton Tune and he’s the kind of stationary pocket passer the Owls’ defense thrives against.

On offense, no one expects the Owls to go puntless but just by moving the ball, they can certainly stay in this one. They have to prove that after a month of producing only around 10 points a game their 54- and 36-point outbursts of the last two weeks represent the lightbulb going on over the offensive coaching staff’s heads and not consecutive outliers bulking a season-long trend.

Defensively, they will have to do a much better job against the running game than they did in their last home game, a 27-16 loss to Tulsa. They will have to get to Bryant, put him on his backside, strip him of the ball or force tipped interceptions. Relentless pressure is Job One.

Head coach Stan Drayton stood in front of the team earlier this week and told them they will be champions. Not this year, but soon. Temple can either let the close losses to Navy, Houston and Rutgers that kept it out of a bowl game fester or it can push forward to let the rest of the world know Drayton was right in his hunch.

That’s because, unlike Temple, Cincinnati will be in a bowl game this year and Temple has a chance to show by winning it can beat a bowl team now, not later. So this is the Owls’ Super Bowl.

Drayton asked the Owls to eliminate the things “that are slowing us down” earlier this week.

The team responded, “yes, sir.” Words are nice. Deeds are nicer. The Owls have a very good chance of turning those words into deeds by no later than 7 p.m. tomorrow.

If they do, they will send a clear message to the rest of the college football world that Temple football is back now instead of some sort of theoretical championship future their head coach envisions.

Late Saturday Night: Game Analysis

7 thoughts on “Cincy: Temple’s Super Bowl

  1. Mikey, When in doubt shoot…Always be in doubt. Temple 34 Cincinnati 27! Word…

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. As season ticket holders since 2015, the low point of our Temple games experiences was watching Temple lose to USF in Tampa last year. The disconnect between the former guy and the players was much worse than at home games. His only interface was yelling at the offensive line as they sat on a bench. Drayton’s vibe with his players makes such a difference! Recruiting and the portal will tell the tale for the next few years, but pride has returned to the sideline and on the field in a remarkably short period of time! The Owls win tomorrow and play in the Military Bowl next year! Let’s go Owls!!!!

  3. TU should publish individual BOT support stats for TUFB. Who has contributed/how much, and in person game attendance stats?

    Drayton would probably quit if he knew the real deal.., especially when compared to Texas!

    BOT history for TUFB:

    1. Let the program fall (last place in conference record/attendance) until it needs life support. Big East/MAC/Independent/AAC etc.,

    2. Stand oblivious to the current state and future of CFB (NIL). Watch peer universities ascend to the P5 and do absolutely nothing. Rutgers, BC, UCF, Cincy, UH.

    3. Hire a carpetbagger AD, Kraft, and watch him further dismantle the program.

    4. Administer CPR (hire Johnson/Drayton). Watch and listen for signs of life, meanwhile do absolutely nothing to support the patient.

    5. Repeat the process, Step 1-4, if the patient survives.

    When is enough enough? Aren’t we all tired of watching the same horror movie over and over again?

  4. Interesting question here about TUFB standing in national relevance. Short answer is nowhere close to the national radar. Practically invisible on the national radar. No better indicator than seeing what network is showing your games. If half of your schedule is on ESPN+, you’re not on the national radar.

    I had concerns during year one of Carey that things were going to go in a bad direction. That bowl game loss was the final straw. It turned out worse than I even expected. 15 years of progress whitewashed in the final two seasons of Carey. Back to the bottom 10% of all CFB programs was the end result.

    Drayton is taking the right steps and has things moving in a positive direction. But this is not a one year fix. This is back to Al Golden – a complete down to the studs rebuild. Stan can not do it all himself. KJ raises a good point – how invested is BOT in this? What is happening to drive NIL?

    For all the good it looks Drayton can do, he is going to need some support from the administration. If Wingard and Johnson – both with big P5 experience – can’t make it happen, can the program be sustained?

    • Why does TU budget for and play football? If you ask all 36 BOT members behind closed doors you would get 36 unique answers.

      TU has a football program because it is in the state provided budget. Otherwise, the BOT could care less. Success or failure, all the same dollars.

      A few BOT members will say I’m being extremely unfair and naive. My answer, “look to your left and right, your colleagues are the problem.”

      The BOT refuses to accept responsibility, and who has the power to hold them accountable? Nobody.

      The Governor could step in, but why? No political points lost or gained over TU.

      • An on-campus stadium would have provided a real home-field advantage for Temple since Doc Chodaff said it was a “done deal” at the 2012 Indiana-Temple NCAA hoops game. Who knows how many more games Temple would have won with a screaming crowd of 30-35K at home say, starting, 2014? I think as many as 10 more.

  5. Organizations and Institutions operate on three levels, simultaneously.

    1. Tactical. The day to day fight, hands-on, daily dramas. The HC and coaching staff.
    2. Operational. Implementation of resources to achieve the strategic vision. The AD and the Athletic Dept.
    3. Strategic. Articulates the Vision, and Ends, Ways, and Means to achieve the vision. The Board of Trustees.

    TUFB is broken. Failures at all the levels during the Collins and Carey years equals a tremendous setback.

    What is the vision for TUFB? Does anyone know, where is it articulated, does it include P5 acceptance?

    In this age of NIL, why would any four star athlete commit to TUFB? They won’t. Watch SMU and Memphis ascend in the nest three years via FEDEX and Texas deep pockets coupled with strong BOTs.

    TU stakeholders, and even Stan Drayton, still don’t get it. The ineptness of THE BOT has PUT a CEILING on TUFB.

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