Tag Archives: Temple

Penn State ’11 – When The Ten That Was Eleven Became Twelve

That’s right, with the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten has twelve members. Gone are the days of hiding the “ten that is actually 11″ thing Escher-like in the conference logo.

Gone are the days of my being able to refer to this league as the Big Eleven Ten (I will be sticking with Big Tweleveten until they expand again).  Gone are the days of Penn State being the figurative new kid on the Big Ten block. But when the focus is returned to this upcoming season, what isn’t gone are the days of Penn State having an early loss. In fact, the Blue and White may have doubled-down on that trend as the Nittany Lions face Iowa and Alabama in their first six games. The end of the schedule doesn’t get any easier, with a home game against Nebraska followed by consecutive road trips to Columbus and Madison.

September 3  – Indiana State

Let’s be honest…This is merely a tune-up. The Indiana State Fighting Trees won’t mount any real opposition; instead, they will be happy to take a Happy Valley seal-clubbing, and return to Terre Haute check in hand.

September 10  – Alabama

Last year in Tuscaloosa, this was the Ghosts of College Football’s past. Back in the days when Penn State was still independent, a JoePa vs. Bear Bryant contest was a regular on the schedule. Not to mention the Nittany Lions routinely faced an SEC team in their usual bowl game.

What do Elvis and Bear Bryant have in common? Most Alabamians think they are both still alive.

This year in Happy Valley, the Penn State faithful will remember how they were outclassed at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be one of those games where if you see just the final score, you will know the winner. If the final score is 12-7, you know Penn State won. But, if the final is 43-6, you know that was an Alabama victory.

September 17 – @ Temple

Once again, Temple will face the Nittany Lion buzzsaw. Once again, they will set a record for losses to a Joe Paterno-led team (27). Once again, this will just continue to put the in-state rival from Philadelphia in sole possession of the distinction of suffering the most losses to a Paterno-led team.

September 24 – Eastern Michigan

For the second week in a row, the Nittany Lion buzzsaw will slice through the flesh of a MAC sacrificial lamb. Eastern Michigan is ranked dead-last in the Dubsism pre-season rankings; look for this game to be over by half-time.

October 1 – @ Indiana

Now for the big streak Penn State has since joining the Big Twelevten.  Penn State is 14-0 vs. the Poosiers in conference play. This streak will continue, just like Amy Winehouse’s current consecutive Days-Not-Alive streak.

October 8 – Iowa

For the second year in a row, this game is the Rolaids Bowl.  Now with the current conference re-alignment as resultant schedule, Iowa has replaced Michigan as one of two “red circles of seething hate” on my Penn State schedule (of course, the Ohio State Suckeyes being the other). How does this game get such a distinction? Because (deleted) Iowa always finds a (deleted) way to win this (deleted) game.  This is why the Fawkeyes are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Nittany Lions.

October 15 – Purdue

Purdue represents the second conference foe in Indiana toward which I am officially dismissive. Gone are the salad days of Drew Brees, Kyle Orton, and uh….give me a minute…you know, that other Purdue Toiletmaker that didn’t suck. You know, tall guy, always wore a shirt…never mind. The point is Purdue has had a few years to forget what a historic death-pit they’ve found Happy Valley to be, but they should be getting a reminder about 12:30.

October 22 – @ Northwestern

Honestly, Northwestern scares me when Penn State has to go to Evanston. The Blue and White have only ever lost three times to the Wildcats; two of those occurring in Illinois. While Northwestern has improved to the point where the Mildcats are no longer everybody’s homecoming patsy, they tend to have surprises at home.

October 29 – Illinois

REVENGE GAME: Thanks to the quirks of scheduling in a growing conference, the Fighting Saliva get to return to the scene of the Homecoming crime they committed last year. I want to drink beer out of Ron Zook’s hollowed-out skull. Somebody needs to make that happen.

Michigan supporters simply won’t support any further slippage of this program; its “bowl or bust” for Rodriguez, and like Zook, he isn’t likely to get a helpful outcome in State College.

November 12 – Nebraska

This is first conference match between Penn State and the Cornsuckers who used some B.S. pity party (“poor Tom Osborne hasn’t won a title yet” even though he NEVER deserved one…) to rob the Nittany Lions of a National Championship in 1995.

This also marks the “make or break” stage of the schedule; this is the first of three straight games against Top-20 pre-season opponents, and the only one at home. I may need to save some of those Rolaids from the Iowa game.

November 19 – @ Ohio State

There is a formula for beating the Ohio State Penitentary University; Joe Paterno has proven it, but hasn’t been able to pull it off in a couple of years. The calculus remains the same; if you want to see a Penn State win, you want to see a plodding, ball-control type game with stiff defense on both sides, something akin to watching two sloths using a rock to break open a coconut.  If that happens, the blue sloth  wins  by a field goal.

November 25 – @ Wisconsin

I’d love to say Penn State gets to this game with the idea that a win in Madison means a trip to the first Big Ten championship game, but I’m not that drunk yet. Honesty, I think the Nittany Lions roll into Camp Randall stadium eyeing one those 25 Big Twelevten/SEC New Year’s Day bowls.

Penn State ’10 – The Last Year for the Big Eleven

That’s right, with the addition of Nebraska beginning in 2011, the Big Ten will have twelve members. Gone are the days of hiding the “ten that is actually 11″ thing Escher-like in the conference logo.

Gone are the days of my being able to refer to this league as the Big Eleven Ten (I will be sticking with Big Tweleveten beginning in 2011 unless they change the name.) And gone are the days of Penn State being the figurative new kid on the Big Ten block.

But when the focus is returned to this upcoming season, what isn’t gone are the days of Penn State having an early loss. In fact, the Blue and White may have doubled-down on that trend as the Nittany Lions face the first schedule ever that features three teams that won BCS bowl games, and two of them are scheduled in the first five games. Even better, there is some huge irony in the fact the Lions get to play the role of the Christians in the Roman era, as they get to face all three away from Happy Valley.

September 4 – Youngstown State

Let’s be honest. This is merely a tune-up, Youngstown won’t mount any real opposition; instead, they will be happy to take a Happy Vally seal-clubbing, and return to Ohio check in hand.

September 11  – @ Alabama

This easily could be the Ghosts of College Football’s past. Back in the days when Penn State was still independent, a Joe-Pa vs. Bear Bryant contest was a regular on the schedule. Not to mention the Nittany Lions routinely faced an SEC team in their usual bowl game.

What do Elvis and Bear Bryant have in common? Most Alabamians think they are both still alive.

Now it is Alabama who is coming off a National Championship and enters this season ranked at the top of the food chain. Penn State will face a daunting task to win in Tuscaloosa, but if they do, look for The Blue and White to rocket up the rankings.

September 18 – Kent State

The Golden Flashes should be just another little Ohio school coming to collect a pot of gold for being another Lions’ sacrificial lamb. Although they have a hope Youngstown State doesn’t; a letdown after the trip to Tuscaloosa.

September 25 – Temple

Once again, Temple will be the second MAC representative to face the Nittany Lion buzzsaw. They also will likely become the first one to lose to a Joe Paterno-led team 26 times. Once again, this will just continue to put the in-state rival from Philadelphia in sole possession of the distinction of suffering the most losses to a Paterno-led team.

October 2 – @ Iowa

Last year, I dubbed this game The Rolaids Bowl. This year, I have made it official; Iowa has replaced Michigan as one of two “red circles of seething hate” on my Penn State schedule (of course, the Ohio State Suckeyes being the other). How does this game get such a distinction? Because fucking Iowa always finds a fucking way to win this fucking game. The last time Penn State visited Iowa City, they left having to swallow that miracle field goal. Iowa also returns a very solid team from that which won a BCS game back in January.

One of the most under-appreciated movies ever.

Then there’s the “ugly numbers;” such as Iowa’s 7-1 record in their last 8 games against the Nittany Lions in this decade, Penn State’s 7-10 record in Big Eleven Ten openers, and are only 3-3 in conference openers at Happy Valley and you see why the PSU faithful may need to keep the antacids handy.

October 9 – Illinois

Linguists have discovered "Zook" is an old Illini word meaning "3-9."

Illinois represents the first conference foe toward which I am officially dismissive. The salad days of Juice Williams, Arrelious Benn, and Rashard Mendenhall are long gone, and odds are head coach Ron “I never met a Coke machine I couldn’t head-butt” Zook have will be gone soon as well. Zook is clearly on the list of guys who need to win to save their jobs. Going to Happy Valley after what is likely a Penn State loss on the road doesn’t bode well for Coach “Z”picking up a “W” here.

October 23 – @ Minnesota

This will be Penn State’s first visit to Goldy F. Gopher’s new home in TCF Stadium. Having lived in Minnesota last year, I can tell you personally this is a beautiful facility. It is even better if you don’t look at the team Minnesota puts on the field. This program defines mediocre; being just good enough to make a low-level bowl game, but never being able to get over that hump. The combination of the new stadium that brought heightened expectations from boosters coupled with the mediocrity which has spanned two different head coaches means Tim Brewster is beginning to reek of the same cologne of desperation in which Ron Zook and Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez are marinating.

October 30 – Michigan

See the entries for the previous two games. First of all, Mi-shit-gan is the second conference foe that can be summarily dismissed. The math is easy: the “spread offense” without any real talent equals Purdue at the end of the Joe Tiller era when the Boilers’ douchebag AD started screwing around with the team. Secondly, there is the aforementioned “cologne of desperation” oozing from Coach “Forehead” Rodriguez’ pores.

Could Coach Four-head be foretelling Michigan's win total?

Michigan supporters simply won’t support any further slippage of this program; its “bowl or bust” for Rodriguez, and like Zook, he isn’t likely to get a helpful outcome in State College.

November 6 – Northwestern

Honestly, Northwestern scares me when Penn State has to go to Evanston. The Blue and White have only ever lost three times to the Wildcats; two of those occurring in Illinois. While Northwestern has improved to the point where they are no longer everybody’s homecoming patsy, the Wildcats tend to become the declawed kitties in Happy Valley.

November 13 – @ Ohio State

This very easily could be the conference championship game.  I won’t go through the litany of “what if” scenarios; suffice it to say if Penn State and Ohio State enter this game with less than two losses each, the implications could be huge.

Last time he went to Columbus, Joe Paterno proved there is a formula for beating the Ohio State Penitentary University. The calculus remains the same this year; if you want to see a Penn State win, you want to see a plodding, ball-control type game with stiff defense on both sides, something akin to watching two sloths using a rock to break open a coconut. If that happens, the blue sloth will win by a field goal.

November 20 – @ Indiana (FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.)

Now for the streak that has taken on even more meaning in the last year. Since joining the Big Eleven Ten, Penn State is 13-0 vs. the Hoosiers. However, on this day, I happen to be getting married to an alum of Indiana’s biggest rival. And even though Purdue isn’t on Penn State’s schedule this year, if for some odd reason the Nittany Lions lose this game, I will have no choice but to get an immediate divorce as I will not be shackled to a jinx.

November 27  – Michigan State

Since some things never really change, I’m just going to quote myself from last year.

“Picture it…State College, in a closet somewhere deep in the recesses of Beaver Stadium sits the Land Grant Trophy. It has been there for years, draped in a towel with years worth of dust on it. It’s two days before this game, and nobody can remember where they left the damn thing…it won’t matter, because they won’t need it…The reason is simple: the Spartans are always out of gas when they get to this game…and this year will be no exception.”

The bottom line: expect The Nittany Lions to be in a bowl game; BCS in the best case, and no worse than New Year’s Day in any event.

The 2010 Dubsism Pre-Season College Football Rankings

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. There is a rule in the blogosphere that says if you tag more than three posts with “college football,” you are required to do a pre-season ranking. It’s really almost like a chain letter; failing to engage is such willful prognostication can mean your goodies will swell into purple soccer balls before they burst and drop right off. Not only that, but you are forced to sit in front of Lou Holtz without a spit shield. Since I can barely swim…

Granny's trying to wet the wettest whistle in the history of wet whistles (reaches for a squeegee).

Teams are rated within their conference, and the conferences are ranked in order of overall strength.

Plus, since here at Dubsism we are believers in the yin and yang of things, we felt it necessary not only to do the obligatory Top 25 list, but a comprehensive list as well. Why? Because for every team that should be admired for its prowess, there is one that should be pitied for its ineptitude.

Independents:

The special category for Army, Navy, and that school in Indiana that used to mean something. Every year, Notre Dame gets more attention than they deserve; a phenomenon that continues up to that point when the Irish get such a crushing loss that every the most ardent Notre Dame fan has no choice but to admit they simply aren’t very good. Even though the Irish have their typically soft schedule, the hype really should be over by the third quarter of the Purdue game.

Thankfully, there is an Independent worth discussing. The Navy Midshipmen have built a program that is now worthy of a discussion wondering how good they will be rather than if they will be any good. Top that off with quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who is the best player you’ve never heard of. His name would be on all our lips were he at a “traditional” football power rather than preparing to serve his country.

  1. Navy
  2. Notre Dame
  3. Army

11) Sun Belt Conference

Yeah, this is really Division I football, but it has a way to go to be the little brother of top-flight college football. Right now, it is more like a fetal version of a real conference; there are some signs of life beginning to develop. The Sun Belt has produced 9- and 10-win teams. Sun Belt teams have scored victories over big-conference teams; just a few years ago Louisiana-Monroe beat Alabama, Troy shocked Oklahoma State, and FAU took out a weak, but still BCS conference Minnesota all in the same season. Arkansas State upset Texas A&M in 2008 and in 2009 almost scored a road win over Iowa, falling 24-21.

The second trimester is denoted by a road win over a BCS conference team.

Another sign that this conference is developing is the fact it has an increasing number of top-quality players; this year’s class includes Middle Tennessee State’s Dwight Dasher, Troy’s Jerrel Jernigan and Florida International’s T.Y. Hilton.

  1. Troy
  2. Middle Tennessee
  3. Western Kentucky
  4. North Texas
  5. Florida International
  6. Arkansas State
  7. Louisiana-Monroe
  8. Louisiana-Lafayette
  9. Florida Atlantic

10) MAC

It’s easy to say the MAC is like a mini-me to the Big Ten, except the MAC doesn’t have bloated, over-rated teams that can’t get it done on the field (read that as “Michigan.”) Nine straight wins means there just might be a new “Golden Era” in Philadelphia. These aren’t the Temple Owls that stumbled affably toward, yet never achieving respectability. Now, the goal is to win the conference, which would’ve likely happened in 2009 had it not been for an injury to star running back Bernard Pierce.

  1. Temple
  2. Toledo
  3. Kent State
  4. Northern Illinois
  5. Akron
  6. Western Michigan
  7. Bowling Green
  8. Miami (OH)
  9. Ball State
  10. Central Michigan
  11. Buffalo
  12. Eastern Michigan
  13. Ohio

9) WAC

Boise State defines the term “big fish in a small pond.” While the Broncos enter the Dubsism pre-season rankings in the Top Ten, you have to scroll all the way to #65 to find the next WAC member. But this fish is no less dangerous just because it comes from a small pond; you wouldn’t fuck with Jaws just because he was in your hot tub.

We're going to need a bigger tub.

Don’t look now, but Boise State has won 26 of their last 27 games, including two man-handlings of Oregon and handing a very-good TCU it’s walking papers from the ranks of the undefeated.  They finished No. 4 in the AP poll last year, they are returning over 20 starters, and this is a program that has won two BCS Bowl games in the last four years, which means you have to consider this team, goofy blue field and all, a legitimate national championship contender.

  1. Boise State
  2. Fresno State
  3. Hawaii
  4. New Mexico State
  5. Nevada
  6. Idaho
  7. Louisiana Tech
  8. San Jose State
  9. Utah State

8 ) Conference USA

This may as well be the wild-card conference, because there’s just no telling what may happen once these teams hit the field. Houston is long on talent, but short on mental toughness and leadership. Central Florida returns 15 starters, has depth and talent in the receiver ranks, but the running game is suspect and there are questions about the quarterback position. Southern Miss is the model of consistency, yet can’t seem to crack seven wins, and East Carolina may start hijacking merchant ships.

Today's pirate: Less "Yarrrgh," more "Allah Akbar."

After all, we have a new face of piracy in the world, and perhaps it’s time ECU updated their look to be more in tune with the modern swashbuckler. After all, head coach Ruffin McNeill likely learned a lot about pirates from his last boss.

  1. Houston
  2. East Carolina
  3. Southern Miss
  4. UCF
  5. Memphis
  6. Marshall
  7. Tulsa
  8. Southern Methodist
  9. UTEP
  10. UAB
  11. Rice
  12. Tulane

7) Mountain West Conference

For a brief, shining moment, the Mountain West was poised to become the uber-“Small” conference. Unfortunately, right after Boise State made the announcement it was leaving the WAC to join, Utah bolted for the brights lights and the big city of the Pac-10.  All that does is remind us the tectonic shifting of conferences likely isn’t over yet; TCU is a prime pick to jump over that BCS fence if they were given an opportunity. Despite all that, for as long as it lasts, the Mountain West is still the best non-BCS conference out there.

  1. Utah
  2. TCU
  3. Brigham Young
  4. Air Force
  5. San Diego State
  6. New Mexico
  7. Wyoming
  8. Colorado State
  9. UNLV

6) Big East

Honestly, the Big East puzzles me. I never really have any respect for anybody in this conference, but there are always a couple of teams that look good…well, until they get to a bowl game. Since the Big East winner gets an automatic bid to the BCS dance, look for Connecticut to be the sacrificial lamb come January.

  1. Connecticut
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. West Virginia
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Louisville
  6. Rutgers
  7. South Florida
  8. Syracuse

5) ACC

Here’s another conference I don’t really understand. With a few exceptions, these teams are really all the same. Take the top seven teams in this conference, toss them up in the air and see which one lands first; North Carolina or Boston College could find themselves on top of this league as easily as one of the Techs. Likewise, the bottom five teams are all equally rancid; it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the level of awful going on at Maryland versus Duke.

  1. Georgia Tech
  2. Virginia Tech
  3. Clemson
  4. Miami (FL)
  5. Florida State
  6. North Carolina
  7. Boston College
  8. North Carolina State
  9. Maryland
  10. Wake Forest
  11. Virginia
  12. Duke

4) Pac-10

As emasculated as Oregon and USC have been by the justice system and the NCAA respectively, they are still better than anybody in either the ACC or the Big East. For those of you east coast people to whom football west of Texas is an unknown world, just wait for the inevitable bowl season when those conferences will give their usual dismal performance, whereas it will likely take the Big 10 winner to handle Oregon.

Asterisks or not, USC is still better than anybody in the Big East.

  1. Oregon
  2. USC
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. UCLA
  6. Stanford
  7. Oregon State
  8. Washington
  9. Arizona State
  10. Washington State

3) Big 12

Considering the Big 12 is in its swan song as a conference, this might not be the best time to point out Nits lameness. But I must; I may not have another  chance. First, there’s the supposedly-dominant Longhorns (yes, the same ones that were manhandled by Alabama) have lost to Kansas State twice in the last five years.   Nebraska has been consistenly the class of the Big 12 North, which is really the Kazakhistan of  BCS conference football, which qualifies them to be a red, western version of Michigan State once they join the Big Tweleveten. And then there’s Oklahoma. The Sooners are always a darling in August, and that “belle of the ball” status usually dies after the annual loss to Texas.

This is usually what an OU fan looks like after the Texas game.

  1. Texas
  2. Nebraska
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Missouri
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Baylor
  9. Kansas
  10. Iowa State
  11. Kansas State
  12. Colorado

2) Big 10

Everybody loves to be down on the Big 10; every year we hear stuff about how the conference is really the the Big Three and the Insignificant Eight. Let’s not forget the Big Ten won two BCS bowl games last year, but that this conference produces at least four good football teams each season. Look for depth in this conference; the Big 10 will produce at least 7 bowl teams.

  1. Ohio State
  2. Penn State
  3. Iowa
  4. Michigan State
  5. Purdue
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Northwestern
  8. Minnesota
  9. Michigan
  10. Illinois
  11. Indiana

1) SEC

Clearly the best conference in the country, the SEC is the only conference other than the Big 10 that won two BCS games last year and will produce more than 6 bowl teams this year. The bottom line is since its inception in 1998, the SEC has owned the BCS. An SEC team has won 6 of the twelve title games, including the last four. You could have an all SEC title game if it weren’t for the SEC’s own championship game, which you can expect to be a Florida and Alabama affair again.

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida
  3. LSU
  4. Mississippi
  5. Auburn
  6. Georgia
  7. Tennessee
  8. South Carolina
  9. Arkansas
  10. Mississippi State
  11. Kentucky
  12. Vanderbilt

Overall Rankings:

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida
  3. Ohio State
  4. Texas
  5. Penn State
  6. LSU
  7. Utah
  8. Iowa
  9. Oregon
  10. Boise State
  11. Mississippi
  12. Auburn
  13. USC
  14. Georgia
  15. TCU
  16. Georgia Tech
  17. Nebraska
  18. Connecticut
  19. Pittsburgh
  20. Tennessee
  21. West Virginia
  22. Brigham Young
  23. Michigan State
  24. Oklahoma
  25. Virginia Tech
  26. Oklahoma State
  27. Cincinnati
  28. Arizona
  29. Purdue
  30. Clemson
  31. California
  32. UCLA
  33. Wisconsin
  34. Miami (FL)
  35. Florida State
  36. South Carolina
  37. Missouri
  38. Texas A&M
  39. Stanford
  40. Northwestern
  41. Minnesota
  42. Texas Tech
  43. Arkansas
  44. Oregon State
  45. Mississippi State
  46. Washington
  47. Navy
  48. North Carolina
  49. Kentucky
  50. Air Force
  51. Arizona State
  52. Baylor
  53. Boston College
  54. Michigan
  55. Illinois
  56. North Carolina State
  57. Vanderbilt
  58. Houston
  59. Louisville
  60. Kansas
  61. San Diego State
  62. Iowa State
  63. Kansas State
  64. East Carolina
  65. Maryland
  66. Fresno State
  67. Southern Miss
  68. UCF
  69. Rutgers
  70. South Florida
  71. New Mexico
  72. Wake Forest
  73. Colorado
  74. Wyoming
  75. Memphis
  76. Hawaii
  77. Notre Dame
  78. Virginia
  79. Temple
  80. Duke
  81. Marshall
  82. Tulsa
  83. Southern Methodist
  84. Toledo
  85. Colorado State
  86. Troy
  87. Indiana
  88. Kent State
  89. Middle Tennessee
  90. UTEP
  91. Syracuse
  92. Northern Illinois
  93. UNLV
  94. New Mexico State
  95. Washington State
  96. UAB
  97. Akron
  98. Nevada
  99. Idaho
  100. Western Kentucky
  101. North Texas
  102. Louisiana Tech
  103. Florida International
  104. San Jose State
  105. Western Michigan
  106. Arkansas State
  107. Rice
  108. Bowling Green
  109. Miami (OH)
  110. Utah State
  111. Ball State
  112. Central Michigan
  113. Tulane
  114. Louisiana-Monroe
  115. Buffalo
  116. Eastern Michigan
  117. Louisiana-Lafayette
  118. Army
  119. Ohio
  120. Florida Atlantic

Is There a New “Golden” Era in North Philadelphia?

The word “temple” can evoke many different visions. Health fanatics love the cliché “the body is a temple.” For the people in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood I which I live, it has another meaning entirely. One thing that Temple hasn’t brought to mind in 20 years is winning football.

Mind you, that wasn’t always the case. Temple University is one of the “old school” members of Division I football; having began playing organized football in 1894. As a demonstration of just how long Temple has been a part of college football, historians commonly agree the modern era of Temple football arrived in the 1920’s, the same decade that brought us a baby Joe Paterno. But as JoePa has been a stalwart fixture on the college football landscape for nearly sixty years, the Temple Owls have been a bit more mercurial.

In 1925, Henry J. “Heinie” Miller was hired as head coach, and under his leadership, the Owls became a regional power. This rise allowed Temple to hire a “big-name” coach in 1933 when Miller departed. In the prior 19 seasons, the legendary Glenn “Pop” Warner had won three national championships at Pittsburgh and Stanford, winning three national championships. He spent his final six seasons as a head coach at Temple, compiling a 31-18-2 record. The height of the Warner era on that sideline in north Philadelphia came in 1934, a season that saw the Owls post a 7-0-2 regular season mark earning an invite to the inaugural Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on New Year’s Day 1935.

But as all things that go up must come down, Warner’s retirement in 1938 served as the peak of the roller coaster. Over the next 25 years, the Owls had only 4 winning seasons. The ebb came in the late 1950s, a time when Temple endured a school record 21-game losing streak.  

The 1960’s saw the beginning of the swing back, as the Philadelphia northsiders became essentially a .500 team; the 1970’s saw Temple enjoy a 14-game winning streak and the school’s second bowl game appearance, a defeat of California in the 1978 Garden State Bowl. Under head coach Wayne Hardin, the Owls of the 1970’s were one of the more stable Eastern football powers and often defeated local rivals West Virginia, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh.

But when Hardin retired in 1982, the pendulum began another regressive swing leading to the dark days as a member of the Big East Conference. This was a 14-year period that saw the Owls win three conference games in a season only once, and go 0-for-the conference schedule six times. Overall, Temple compiled a 14-80 record against Big East foes.

Now for the good news; this might just be the dawn of a Golden era at Temple. Ever since head coach Al Golden took up the Temple sideline near the end of the 2005 campaign, there has been slow, but steady improvement. Even as the Owls lost their first 8 games under Golden, and even though they only managed one win in that first season, it was a Homecoming victory that also halted a 20-game losing streak.

Can Golden turn Temple around?

Can Golden turn Temple around?

Temple quadrupled that win total in 2007, including three consecutive wins. The Owl defense improved its ranking from 118th to 49th; the offense also showed faint signs of life, moving from 118th to 113th. The Owls continued the upward swing in 2008, posting five victories. 2009 already promises to show more progress, as Temple currently has a 4-2 mark, including their best start since 1986, and a 4-game winning streak, their longest in 24 years. At the heart of this resurgence at Temple is a young, but talented defense.

Many great historical battles came down to the defense. The battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. saw 10,000 Athenians repel 50,000 Persian invaders. The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 saw Lord Nelson end Napoleon’s hopes to invade the British Isles. Even the American destruction of the invading Japanese fleet at Midway in 1942 can be considered one of the great defensive struggles of all time.

Perhaps what happened in Philadelphia on Saturday lacks the historic cache of those aforementioned battles, but this battle against the Army Black Knights came down to the Owl defense. In the fourth quarter, Army was marching, albeit deep in its own end.  However, the Owls dug in and stalled the Army drive; eventually forcing a turnover on downs by stonewalling the Black Knights at their own 24-yard line on two first down attempts from less than a yard.

The two pivotal plays of the game saw both sides dug into their trenches much like the Germans and the Allies during the Battle of the Somme. Twice Army tried to bulldoze its way to the 18 inches it needed to keep the football, and twice they were denied.

With third and 18 inches, and two snaps, if you can’t get 18 inches, what makes you think we’re going to win a football game?” Army coach Rich Ellerson told Rivals.com. “What type of magic is going to happen out there that you’re somehow going to manufacture points?”

Of course, it is easy to dismiss Temple’s accomplishment. After all they are the only team to go from a BCS conference to a “small” Division I conference (the Mid-American Conference). Army is currently a 3-win, 4-loss team that is in the midst of its own football doldrums; the Black Knights haven’t been to a bowl game since 1996.

But as the old football cliché goes, you can only beat the teams you play, and you can only win the games on the schedule. Granted, Temple beating Army is no upset, nor will it have the BCS implications that Purdue’s victory over Ohio State or Washington’s toppling of Southern Cal will have. Nevertheless, winning games in the way the Owls did is what teams that are destined for bigger things do.

Dr. Cliff Huxtable when he was still an Owl fullback.

Dr. Cliff Huxtable when he was still an Owl fullback.

Does this mean Al Golden is on his way to a place in Temple history next to “Pop” Warner? Nobody can really know the answer to that, but it is safe to assume Temple would like again to be known for winning football rather than its most famous football alum.

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