Of all the football wins in Temple history, one of the under-the-radar ones came in 1986 when the Owls beat Virginia Tech, 29-13, in what was then known as The Oyster Bowl.
The Oyster Bowl–like the Mirage Bowl in Japan–was one of two “bowl games” the Owls participated in during the regular season and the win was impressive both in Temple’s dominance of the “home” team and how good Virginia Tech was that season.
We were reminded of that win after seeing a photo yesterday of Matty Baker, the quarterback from that era, and Paul Palmer, the star of the game. The two reunited at Temple on Sunday. Baker was a redshirt freshman that year who made the trip but did not play. Baker did play 11 games as a backup the next season and became the Temple starter in 1988. (Lee Saltz was the Temple quarterback in the Oyster Bowl and was credited for a touchdown toss on a shovel pass that gave the Owls a 7-0 lead. Great call by Arians. Saltz also connected with 4.3 sprinter Keith Gloster on a perfectly thrown 52-yard touchdown bomb.)
Palmer ran for 239 yards, the most Virginia Tech allowed to a single player in its history until that point.
Temple finished that 1986 season 6-5 and that day handed Virginia Tech one of its only two losses of the season. That season the Hokies finished their season by beating North Carolina State (8-3-1), 25-24, in the Peach Bowl–which was one of the top bowl games in 1986.
The only other loss Virginia Tech had that season was to Cincinnati in its opener. Virginia Tech beat an 8-2-2 Clemson team, in addition to Virginia, West Virginia, Syracuse, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, among others. They also tied South Carolina.
They could not beat Temple because of the brilliant coaching of Bruce Arians and the elusiveness of Palmer.
As far as under-the-radar wins by winning Temple teams, it has to be near the top of the list.
Friday: A Letter