This was supposed to be a bye week for the Temple football team to prepare for the upcoming Big East schedule. They were supposed to be 3-1, collecting easy wins over Navy, Connecticut and Bowling Green.
They were supposed to be an improved team, one capable of blowing out those three teams as they collected wins en route to their first bowl game since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
Instead, they’re 1-2 and look like the sad Temple teams that had previously drawn miniscule groups of fans to games and allowed the Big East to decide that Temple’s company wasn’t worth the horrible losses.
They beat Navy, a god-awful team in itself, lost expectedly to Toledo, had their game against UConn postponed, then played Bowling Green last Saturday.
They faced a Bowling Green team that they dispatched 31-14 last year. It was a team with some improvements, but not nearly as many as Temple. Or at least as many Temple thought they had made.
Bowling Green won handedly 42-23.
The “improved” offensive line let up two sacks and Temple only gained 71 yards rushing. Freshman quarterback Mike McGann, dodging defenders left and right, threw for 256 yards but three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.
The first four games were supposed to be easy. Now come the hard ones.
The schedule starts with Boston College next Saturday, and Temple will eventually play Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Miami, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
The Temple team that showed up at Bowling Green and against Toledo isn’t going to beat any of those teams, except maybe Rutgers.
There is something wrong when a maybe has to be put next to a ‘W’ against Rutgers. Rutgers, that crumbling mold of a football program, could beat the Temple team we’ve seen so far. When Rutgers, who lost 50-0 to Virginia Tech last Saturday, has even a chance to beat your team, you better make some changes.
But Coach Bobby Wallace has stood steadfast next to McGann as his starter, for better or worse. Senior Devin Scott, on pace to break some Temple passing records this year, has been benched. Scott, for all of his heart, was never a quarterback that was going to take Temple to a bowl.
But can McGann be expected to do that this season?
He won’t if Tanardo Sharps doesn’t pick up his game. The 1,000-yard rusher of a year past, ran for 18 yards on 15 carries against Bowling Green. He rushed for even less against Toledo and was out with a groin injury against Navy.
Temple’s defense, once the backbone of the team, has been broken. They finished somewhere near 30th in the nation last year but have given up some big plays this year.
The linebacker core has taken the hit with last year’s graduation of LeVar Talley and the indefinite suspension of Taylor Suman, the returning leading tackler and team captain. The only official word is that Suman did something “really bad.”
With his return is unlikely, Temple’s defense better return to some semblance of last year or that bowl wish will keep floating away.
Special teams have been even worse. They gave up a 42-yard touchdown on Saturday after successfully completing a fake punt for a touchdown.
The bowl hopes are fading, Temple has to beat four Big East teams and then beat UConn on Nov. 24. to even be considered for a bowl.
Can they beat four Big East teams? Not like this they can’t.
Can they beat UConn? Like this, I’m not sure.