It all begins now.
After four consecutive losses against high-quality opponents, the Temple Owls (1-4) open their Big East Conference schedule on Homecoming Weekend against the Syracuse Orangemen (1-4) at Veterans Stadium.
Syracuse has the worst defense in the conference, and has surrendered 491.4 yards per game.
Syracuse is also coming off a 48-24 blowout loss to Pittsburgh. This seems like a game for the Owls to show they are better then their record.
“This is a game that can turn our season around. We are not a bad football team, we’ve got issues like any other team,” Temple coach Bobby Wallace said.
“This could be a tremendous win for our football program.”
Temple is fresh off their bye week and all rested up for the long stretch remaining against a mediocre Big East.
They have had some positives in this 1-4 start, the losses are against top tier teams.
One plus is the play of the offensive line.
A unit that gave up a total of 39 sacks last season has only surrendered a minimal seven compared to the 13 at this point last year.
Another bright spot is the re-emergence of senior running back Tanardo Sharps. He has averaged 106 yards per game and has scored four touchdowns.
He also is only 88 yards away from moving ahead of Anthony Anderson for second place all-time rushing yards for the Owls.
Sharps and senior wide out Zamir Cobb have been the scoring offense for this team so far this season.
Both of those players will look to take advantage of the conference’s worst defense.
Syracuse was a bowl team last year, and is coached by eleven-year vet Paul Pasqualoni.
This is the worst start for the Orangemen since 1986 when the team started 1-4.
Ironically, their second win that year was at Temple, a 27-24 win.
Paqualoni is the eighth winningest active coach in Division I-A, with a career mark of 125-56-1 (.690). He has led his Orangemen to eight bowls in his 11 seasons.
“Every year is tough, regardless if you’re 4-1 or 1-4,” Paqualoni said.
“We’ve played some very good teams. It just seems the traveling, the quality of the opponents, not that that is an excuse, has made it challenging.”
The biggest excuse this team could make is injuries.
Last week starting
quarterback R.J. Anderson left the game with a sprained right shoulder.
They went with senior Troy Nunes for the rest of the game, but it looks as if Anderson will get the nod this weekend.
“I think he’s going to be okay. I didn’t personally talk to him today, but yesterday it was getting better,” Paqualoni said. “I’m anxious to see how he throws the ball when we get out there today.
He has to be 100 percent. I’m very optimistic that he will be.”
Temple’s defense will be ready for whichever quarterback they will face.
The Owls defense is lead by there impressive front four.
Danny Klecko has not disappointed in his senior season recording 22 tackles, 5.5 of them for a loss.
He has also fought off double teams to sack the QB two times.
The Homecoming game marks the last one for a lot of these seniors, and for the Owls they want this last time to be memorable.
Matt Sitkoff can be reached at Phil14367@aol.com.