Though the hammer fell – as most expected – on Temple football last Saturday, Miami only knicked the nail.
Sure Temple lost, but they weren’t embarrassed. Heck, Miami didn’t even cover the 30-plus point spread.
No one expected Temple to pull off the biggest upset in the program’s history.
If they did, it would have been the biggest thing since Bill Cosby wore pads.
Fans probably could have cared less about the score or the outcome, especially after last season’s walloping by the Hurricanes down in Coral Gables.
But the points and result started to matter to the entire crowd at Franklin Field for one half of play.
It was just the wrong half.
There was no telling whether there were the usual butterflies or pre-game jitters for Temple’s football players.
After all, most of the players have gone up against one wave of NFL talent after another each of the past four seasons when facing the Hurricanes.
The outcome has become rather predictable.
But the Owls gave Miami a legit college football game, unlike the game the Hurricanes had to sit through in their thrashing of Florida the previous week.
Every team within reach of a bowl game pencils-in at least one or two “gimme” games, and Temple is usually considered one of those games.
But they weren’t a pushover last Saturday.
The first half was a gem.
Miami made it known with every hit and body shock it delivered that it holds the national crown and intends on keeping it.
But things got bizarre for Miami when it missed its first field goal attempt in the first quarter.
Temple trailed 21-0 in the second quarter until running back Tanardo Sharps scored on a spin off left tackle.
The crowd went bonkers.
There was a different vibe in the air and on the field.
After Sharps’ run, no one on the Temple sideline was jumping for joy or had a look of disbelief.
The Owls knew they had a shot all along, so they said.
Soon after the score, the Owls received a gift, this one on a fumble recovery by cornerback Terrance Leftwich.
As he hurried to his feet from the 16-yard line and raced off the field, a deafening sound surrounded the stadium.
Faith was growing in the fans.
Nothing else mattered at the time.
Temple was again threatening to score, and the game started to look more like a game and less like a Miami football clinic.
And I really don’t need to tell you anymore about the game. As you should know, Sharps scored again.
When both teams came out of the locker room after halftime, it was a different story. We started to see the Miami of old.
At the end of the game, it was another check in the loss column for Temple.
But if anything, it might have loosened up the players and possibly instilled more confidence for the weeks to come.
Maybe Saturday’s game was a mirage and we’ll never see the Owls execute that way again.
Maybe it was a wake up call and a reminder that following the coach’s instructions to a T can keep you in the game and eventually allow you to win some.
So if there’s at least one thing we’ve learned in these first few weeks of school, it’s this: Temple football is no fluke and can compete at the highest level.
Even if it is for only a half.
A half just might be something to build upon.
Chris Silva can be reached at Cbsrican@aol.com