Picturing another Temple win over Memphis

Imagine for a moment if the skeptics like me and most of the college football world were wrong and the highly-paid (some say overpaid) football coaching staff at Temple was right.

Temple would beat Memphis on Saturday.

Come to a fork in the road and there is a very narrow path off to the side where we can see a Temple win.

Let’s walk down that one.

If the Owls win, Jadan Blue could be the star of this game.

It’s a narrow trail but it looks like this:

Memphis struggled to beat an Arkansas State team, 55-50. That was the same Arkansas State team that lost to Washington, 52-3. Not surprising, you say because the Huskies are a big-time Power 5 team.

Yeah, but.

That same big-time Power 5 team lost to FCS Montana, the No. 13-ranked team in that classification.

Temple has had its recruiting problems since Matt Rhule left but every Temple recruiting class in the last decade was rated significantly higher than every Montana recruiting class. Maybe the Montana coaches are better.


Temple has a puncher’s chance in this game and, hopefully, that punch is closer to Buster Douglas in his upset of Mike Tyson than it is to Ernie Terrell against Muhammad Ali.

Temple isn’t the Temple of 2016, but Memphis is not the Memphis of two years ago. That Memphis lost only one regular-season game.

Guess to who?


One of the reasons was that Temple had a loud, enthusiastic, crowd of over 35,000 for its win.

This Temple crowd won’t approach that due to COVID and other issues but I have no doubt that this will be the largest Temple crowd of the season, my best guess in the 28-29,000 range. They will be taking names.

Hopefully, Temple will be kicking ass.

That’s where the Temple coaching staff comes into play.

Pretty humorous reference to Temple in this at the 6:00 mark.

Somewhere along the line, maybe with snow falling outside of Carey’s office window in January, this highly-paid group sat in the coaching offices of the $17 million Edberg-Olson Complex and decided that six portal starting transfers were enough to offset the the loss of a dozen really good high-character guys who were also good football players.

The math didn’t add up to me, but I’m not making $2 million per year like Rod Carey is.

Give the guy the benefit of the doubt, which we have not done since February. (Then again, he’s done nothing to earn it.)

In my mind, both Jadan Blue and Randle Jones can be big-time playmakers and, if five-star quarterback D’Wan Mathis can get them the ball both on jet sweeps and deep, the Owls have a chance. Both are NFL players who have graciously given themselves so that their teammates can wash out the bad taste of a 1-6 record last year with a better one this season. That’s the kind of selflessness, say, a R’Mahn Davis never showed here. A good game plan is what they deserve. Trick plays (shovel passes to Tayvon Ruley and an end around pass or two) would be helpful, but we’ve never seen that under Carey. They have a unique talent in backup running back Trey Blair, who was also a damn good high school quarterback. Is there a halfback pass in the playbook for him?



On defense, Manny Walker has been a star but Will Rodgers III came in more heralded and if both make plays against the true freshman Memphis quarterback, Temple could have a defensive score in this one. Rodgers has to time to snap count better and meet at the quarterback at the same time Walker does. Maybe the ball pops loose and Amir Tyler can scoop and score it. Sean Henigan was a big-time Texas high school quarterback, but only rated as a three-star recruit. Mathis, who turned down Michigan State and Ohio State, is the only five-star quarterback in the entire AAC.

Maybe he can turn the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard into an adding machine.

Arkansas State scored 50 on this squad. Temple will have to score 38 or more and avoid the special teams’ snafus that have played it for the last three years. I’ve maintained in this space that hope doesn’t get me to a bowl and my head tells me that this group is headed for 2-10. We said it would be 2-2 after four games and we were right. My guess is Memphis wins this something like 31-20.

It would be nice to be wrong about this team for once. Saturday would be a perfect place to start.

Picks this week: Going against conventional wisdom (and the G5) in picking host Notre Dame to upset Cincinnati, 28-24. (Cincy is a two-point favorite on the road.) ND recruits at a whole different level and Cincy had a tough game against another Indiana team, The University of Indiana. The Hoosiers aren’t nearly as good as the Irish. Also liking Oregon State as a 2.5-point underdog to visiting Washington, UAB as a 1.5-point favorite vs. visiting Liberty and Western Michigan as a 3-point favorite at Buffalo.

Lock of the week: AKRON getting 9.5 over visiting Ohio. Akron isn’t good, but Ohio (without Frank Solich) is truly putrid and nowhere near worthy of being almost a double-digit favorite. Ohio lost at home to Duquesne which, not all that long ago, was a Division III program. Akron not only covers but wins outright, 31-30.

Latest update: Lost on Notre Dame, Liberty and Akron, won on Oregon State and Western Michigan. With the 2-3 weekend, 10-5-1 against the spread is updated to 12-8-1.

Record: 10-5-1 ATS

Sunday: Homecoming Analysis


TU-Memphis: No Mulligans Allowed

There is a school of thought out there that because of a national pandemic things like doing your job correctly should be overlooked.

That maybe this year every coaching staff in America should get a Mulligan and be re-evaluated next season.

Noble, but incorrect because other people in your same profession have no trouble doing theirs. The new head coach at Boston College is doing just fine. The Georgia State coach is doing great. The BYU coach is a sensation.

All have arguably lesser talent than Temple with the possible exception of BYU.

Whether or not Rod Carey is the right head coach for Temple University’s football team going forward is very much an open question.

What we do know based on the evidence of three games is the program is going backward.

In three games, we’ve seen the Owls allow 31 points to a Navy team that scored only 27 on a very bad ECU team, allow 37 points to a team that got beat 42-13 by Tulsa and now made some very questionable moves in a 41-29 loss to Memphis on Saturday.

If you think that’s the Temple football we have all come to know and love, think again.

We said this before the game.

Matt Rhule preached “not beating yourself” but running the ball twice after a turnover that gives you a first down at the 10 is beating yourself. Not doing the basics in the kicking game is beating yourself.

Even the best part of the team, offense, is riddled with coaching mistakes.

In the red zone, the Owls have a ready-made mismatch in 6-6 wide receiver Branden Mack against any secondary. Why not lob it to him in the back of the end zone on the first play after the turnover when the Memphis defense is not set? Your chances are a lot better of a) scoring and b) getting a pass interference that puts the ball on the 1 with a first down than what Carey chose to do. Would Rhule have thrown to Mack?

I bet he would have. That’s why he’s in the NFL and Carey is 0-7 in bowl games.

The Owls missed a chip-shot field goal their first drive. Before the game, Carey said he was “happy” with the kicking game. Any other coach in the United States would look at the results and not only say he wasn’t happy, but that “our kicking game sucks and we need to do something about it.”

Let’s see. After a comical performance in the kicking game the first two games, the Owls not only missed that chip shot field goal but also missed an extra point, had two kickoffs go out of bounds and only by a miracle missed a third kickoff going out.

When you have three kickers on the team and one of them has kicked it out of bounds twice, what do you do? Of course, try another kicker.

Instead, Carey sent out the guy who kicked it out of bounds twice for a try at a third kick out of bounds. Only by some miracle did the ball take a crazy hop and squirt down the sidelines and stay inbounds.

This happens to no other team in America yet Carey tolerates it and has done so for two years.

Sure, Anthony Russo threw three interceptions but one of them was a ball delivered perfectly to Jadan Blue that should have been caught and another came after a brutal non-call on a perfectly-thrown ball to Mack that probably would have led to a touchdown for Temple and robbed Memphis of a touchdown.

That’s a 14-point swing right there and it would have been the difference in the game.

We said before the game that the defense needed to hold Memphis to 28 points or less for the win but because they did not generate even a semblance of a pass rush, they could not.

The kicking and special teams, though, is another story and there is a minimum standard that every team must achieve and Temple is far below that standard.

It has nothing to do with COVID and plenty to do with incompetence and that’s a standard Temple cannot accept but knowing the Temple administration as I do it probably will.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Other AAC bowls lack pizzazz


Orlando is in the middle of the landlocked side of a state surrounded by a sea and an ocean, but you could not tell it from the reaction of some of their fans.

They are in the middle of the saltiest part of the state after hearing that they get to play Marshall and Temple gets to play the more “sexy” bowl matchup. Pizzazz is defined as “an attractive combination of vitality and glamour” and, if anything lacks pizzazz,  it is the AAC bowl matchups.

Temple has an interesting matchup. The others fall short.

In fact, an argument can be made that the Owls might have won the AAC post-season if they can beat UNC because even if Memphis is getting the sexiest bowl opponent, Penn State, we all know the chances of interim G5 team head coaches are a lot slimmer than Ed Foley.

Plenty of complaints on the UCF message board that Temple is getting a P5 opponent while UCF–which both finished ahead of Temple in the AAC East and throttled the Owls on the road–gets the Rosey O’Donnell Bowl against Marshall.

To me, it’s more of a result of life in the Group of Five. If you get an NY6 game, you lose your head coach. If you don’t get an NY6 game, you either get a 6-6 P5 team or a team from a lesser conference.

Temple, the AAC turns its lonely eyes to you because I don’t see a chance of the AAC advancing its brand in many of these bowls that the conference should win:


Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 21 (3:30, ABC) _ SMU, a 10-2 team that played and beat a TCU team (that extended Baylor into overtime), gets to go on the road and play FAU in its home stadium. A Mustangs’ win hardly advances the brand of the conference and SMU, despite being unbeaten at the time, drew only 23,189 fans to a home game against Temple. One trend in SMU’s favor: It gets to play a team with an interim head coach.  Prediction: SMU, 24-17.

Gasparilla Bowl, Dec. 23  (2:30, ESPN)  _ This is the same bowl Temple beat FIU, 28-3, by in a different stadium this time. UCF should draw better at Raymond James Stadium than even the home USF team usually draws but Marshall is a blah opponent that got blown out at home by Cincinnati, 52-14. Prediction: UCF, 34-17.


Cotton Bowl, Dec. 28 (noon, ESPN) _ Hate to say this because I’m an AAC guy, but I think Appalachian State deserved this bowl more than Memphis and probably would have had a much better chance to beat Penn State given the coaching circumstances. No G5 team other than App State has P5 wins like South Carolina and North Carolina. Memphis tried to avoid an Ed Foley-like fate by naming its “interim” head coach the permanent one. Memphis will come of this bowl losing to two Pennsylvania teams and beating everyone else. Prediction: Penn State, 35-14.

Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31 (3:45, ESPN) _ Probably the second-most interesting game to the Temple game as Navy should hold serve as the only ranked team in this matchup (No. 23). Kansas State is pretty good, though, and should keep this one close. Prediction: Navy, 24-20.

Birmingham Bowl, Jan. 2 (3, ESPN) _ No. 21 Cincinnati draws an ACC opponent for the second-straight year, this time in warmer weather. Boston College is an ACC opponent in name only and, despite the fact that Steve Addazio is no longer its coach, Luke Fickell gives Cincy the edge in coaching.

Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 4 (11:30 a.m., ESPN) _ If the Tulane-Southern Mississippi matchup sounds familiar, it should. It’s a renewal of an old CUSA rivalry called the “Battle for the Bell” and the Green Wave should have enough to win this game comfortably, I’d say, around 31-21.

Wednesday: The Newest Dirty Word


TU Homecoming 2019: Unabashed Joy

You can cash by taking the winning horse but an exacta and a trifecta always make the wallet that much fatter.

Screenshot 2019-10-12 at 8.34.14 PM


On Homecoming Weekend 2019, Temple football had a superfecta in a 30-28 win over Memphis:

  • Owls won
  • Owls beat a Top 25 team
  • Owls drew a season-high 34,253 beautiful and involved fans
  • Owls honored their greatest team at the end of the first quarter.

No money exchanged hands, but it was the kind of day money cannot buy.  Perfect 72-degree weather in mid-October with the good guys coming out on top and just about all of their preseason hopes still on the table.

In the end, it was pretty much unabashed joy. No complaints. Much was made in Memphis of the call that overturned a catch by a tight end that might have led to a game-winning field goal but those same fans said nothing about a worse call–a phantom hold on Temple that negated a 60-yard Ra’Mahn Davis touchdown. The film showed no hold, just a push from the front which is a legal block. Davis scores there and Magnificio’s alleged catch is just another magnifico catch to make a blowout closer. You can see both announcers say it was a catch initially but the analyst at least saying it was a great overturn after watching the ball come loose.

Screenshot 2019-10-12 at 8.04.29 PM

He’s a good man, that John Goodman

Could Temple have played better?


Hell, I’d like to see this team have a killer instinct and turn a 23-7 lead into a 35-14 one every now and then but we’ve got to remember that the guys in the other locker room are highly recruited, too, and also have good coaches and resilient personalities.

Any time you win in college football is a good day. Mix in Homecoming and a big crowd with that and some overdue tributes and it turned out to be an outstanding day. The fact that the win made Temple the all-time winningest team in the history of AAC football games was the Cherry on top of this delicious White cake.

Hopefully, it makes this team hungry for more in the upcoming weeks.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner




Game Day Minus-1: A Special Tribute

Some nice 1979 highlights on this reel from ten years ago.

If you blink your eye or are just a little tardy getting to your seat tomorrow, you will miss a special Temple football moment.

Maybe the most special.

Screenshot 2019-10-11 at 2.16.54 PM

Fortunately for Lazygote, no gloves needed but the tailgate should be a little nippy starting at 7 a.m., so a light jacket might be in order.

Sure, the game is as important and as high-profile as they come in this Group of Five league but what will happen during the first timeout is also a huge moment. It is the 40th-anniversary tribute to the 1979 team, a tribute we first suggested here back in the summer.

It will be a too-short tribute to a team that deserves much more, in my mind the greatest Temple team in the 100-plus year history of football at the school. Only the 1934 squad could put up an argument that it was better than the 1979 team but I will take the 1979 team all day long. First, the 1934 Sugar Bowl team lost. The 1979 bowl team won. Back then, everybody was Power 5 and Temple was in the elite of that group.


The 1979 Owls will be honored during that first timeout–probably the first five minutes of halftime would have been a better stage–and deserve a prolonged standing ovation. Consider this: Only two Temple teams since have won the same number of games (10) as that one but neither have those two teams won every game they were supposed to win.

The 1979 Owls captained by Mark Bright and Steve Conjar not only beat every team they were favored to beat but pulled a couple of upsets in a big way. They were not favored to beat Syracuse–with future NFLers’ Art Monk, Joe Morris, and Bill Hurley–but they destroyed the Orange, 49-17. They were not favored to win the Garden State Bowl but beat California, 28-17.

In between, they lost only two a pair of teams ranked at the time of those games: Pitt (10-9) and Penn State (22-7). The Owls led Penn State, 7-6, at halftime before what until that time was the largest crowd in the history of Beaver Stadium. For some reason, head coach Wayne Hardin abandoned a running game that was working to chew up clock and extend drives and went largely to a passing attack in the second half.

That was one of the few mistakes Hardin ever made as a head coach anywhere but 1979 was pretty darn close to a perfect season. With just 17 more points, that team goes 12-0 and wins the national championship because there was no G5 and P5 schism back then and it was a strong enough schedule to hand the Owls what would have been a mythical title.

Consider that: TEMPLE winning a National Championship in football. It was thisclose …

Those were the days in college football when there were no participation trophies. You had to be really good and not just one of the best 80 teams to earn a bowl bid. Only 30 teams were extended bowl invitations.

There are now 40 bowl games. In 1979, there were only 15. Temple won one of them. The Owls finished ranked No. 17 in both polls (then, UPI and AP).

Screenshot 2019-10-11 at 1.20.42 PM

That’s it. The entire list of bowl games in 1979

While watching my Owls lose to Buffalo this year, I had one recurring thought: Another year of Temple not beating everyone it was supposed to beat.

It won’t happen this year and we are running out of time for it to happen in the coming years.

Fortunately, I lived to see one of those years. Unfortunately, I might not live to see another. (Hell, let’s hope so, though.)

It was 1979 and Temple owes these guys a debt of gratitude that definitely deserves more than a wave and a cheer during the first timeout of the first quarter. That’s what we have, though, so let’s make the most out of it.

Predictions: Was 4-2 last week against the spread (winning with Cincy beating UCF on Friday night and going 3-2 in the Saturday games). For the season, we are now 21-7 straight-up and 17-11 against the spread. This week: Taking Virginia getting 1 at Miami (cannot believe that a ranked team is a dog to a dysfunctional Manny Diaz squad tonight) and, on Saturday, I like the following (home team in CAPS): INDIANA laying the 28 against Rutgers; Maryland laying the 4 against PURDUE; Hawaii getting the 12.5 points against BOISE STATE (Temple and the AAC needs Hawaii to win that game outright); Ball State laying the 2.5 at EASTERN MICHIGAN and Cincinnati laying the 7 at HOUSTON.

Sunday: Game Analysis

The Whole World Is Watching


Memphis’ Jake Elliott is the best kicker on college football.

There will be a couple of things on the television in every sports bar in America on Thursday night.

One will be an NFL game involving Cardinals and 49er; the other will be Temple football. Since the NFL game will not be on until 8:25, Temple football will be the only thing on TV in every sports bar in America between for an hour and a half. In that time, the Owls have a chance to make their game compelling television.

When it comes to Temple University and national branding, Thursday’s game at Memphis (7 p.m., ESPN) will be a chance to show the product to a wider audience than it has been since the Notre Dame game on Halloween Night last year.


Memphis weather.

In essence, the whole world will be watching and this will be a bigger audience than the last two Penn State games and a chance for Temple to walk away a winner, and not the gallant loser it was seen to be against the Fighting Irish a  year ago this month.

So this is a very unique chance for the kids and the coaches to show what they are made of tomorrow night. Will the nation see the sloppy Owl team that committed 120 yards in penalties at Penn State or will they see the crisp Owl team that raced out to a 34-12 lead at Cincinnati a year ago? Will the nation see a defense that was aligned improperly against Army in the opener or one filling the gaps and making life miserable for Memphis quarterback Ryan Ferguson?

Largely, that’s up to both the Temple kids and the coaches. Let’s put it this way: Probably more people will be watching Temple football tomorrow than watched the Vice-Presidential debate on Tuesday night  or at least they should because football is more entertaining than politics.

The Owls have not played their best game yet, but Thursday night will be a good time to start. They seem to be vulnerable to runs up the middle on defense, but that can be shored up by shifting backup offensive guard Brian Carter (6-1, 303) to his old familiar spot, which was as a starting defensive tackle before he was forced to move over to the other side of the ball. Fullback Nick Sharga, a tremendous run-stopper, would also probably be better-suited to play linebacker from here on out because, frankly, he’s more needed there.

Hopefully, the coaches are using their heads for more than a hat rack.

There is not a whole lot of belief in the Owls among the general public because the line jumped from Memphis favored by 6.5 to Memphis favored by 10.5. Maybe the line is telling the nation something.

Or maybe the Owls should take things into their own hands and tell the line something that cannot be printed. A statement for Temple football on a night the whole world is watching is the perfect prescription to get national respect again.

Friday: Game Analysis