Virtually the same scenario faces Temple at the Linc tonight as a year ago: Playing Ohio U. with first place in the MAC East on the line, since both teams plus Miami are currently tied at 5-1.
Last year the Owls, unaccustomed to the spotlight, fell to the occasion, 35-17. So have they since learned what it takes to answer the call?
“I hope we’ve learned,” said Al Golden, whose 8-2 club can win the Division outright with wins over the Bobcats tonight and at Miami next Tuesday. “Clearly we’re back in the same situation which means one of our objectives has been accomplished.
“That’s to build a program, not just have a winning team. This game would go a long ways towards that.”
Since Mike Gerardi replaced Chester Stewart at quarterback, the Owls are unbeaten, having outscored their last three opponents 100-10. Plus, both Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown, who combined for 1,430 yards rushing, are finally healthy, giving former Nebraska coach Frank Solich & Co. plenty to handle.
Last year, the Bobcats did, so Golden hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.
“They were better that day and executed really well,” recalled Golden. “We gave up big plays on defense and a long kick return and you can’t do that in a game of this magnitude.
“But meaningful games in November haven’t happened here a lot.”
If ever. Tonight, Temple gets a chance to take the next step in what has been a remarkable turnaround. This time, though, the Owls just might finally be ready for prime time.