Temple football seniors take final shot to improve bowl record

After defeating Connecticut by 32 points in its last game, Temple is focused on sending its seniors out with a bowl victory.

Temple University football players huddle after the last 2019 season home game against University of Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 30. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football has compiled a 1-3 record in its last four bowl games. 

The Owls’ (8-4, 5-3 The American Athletic Conference) last bowl win came in 2017 when they defeated Florida International University in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. 

Temple’s bowl game destination and opponent for this year will be announced on Sunday.

Temple, which is bowl eligible for a fifth straight season, finished its regular season with a 49-17 victory at home on Nov. 30 against Connecticut (2-10, 0-8 The AAC) and is looking ahead to the postseason. 

“You don’t wanna have that sour taste of a loss,” redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo said. “So, I think getting this win and being able to have some confidence and mojo going into bowl prep is big time.” 

Last year, the Owls lost to Duke University, 56-27, in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl after finishing the regular season 8-4 and 7-1 in conference play. 

In the game against Duke, Temple was missing two key senior players: running back Ryquell Armstead and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. Without Armstead, the Owls were only able to muster 53 rushing yards and without Ya-Sin on defense, they gave up 440 passing yards. 

Senior linebacker Shaun Bradley ensured coach Rod Carey that all seniors are choosing to play in the upcoming bowl game, Carey said. 

“Coming in as a freshman, I know I came up into a winning class,” senior linebacker Sam Franklin said. “Those guys dedicated every day. You never saw them take a rep off or a day off. They embodied Temple TUFF.”

This season, Bradley leads the team in tackles with 79 and is tied for fourth in tackles for loss with graduate linebacker Chapelle Russell. 

On offense, senior receiver Isaiah Wright is third on the team in receptions with 47. He’s also recorded 442 receiving yards and five touchdowns this season. 

“We wanna send these seniors off with a win,” Russo said. “Last year, the way we sent those seniors off after they did so much for this program really hurt us. That loss kinda stung all offseason.”

The team wants Carey to get his first win in a bowl game, Russo added. 

At Northern Illinois University, Carey compiled a 0-5 record in bowl games. 

Last season, the Huskies lost to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 37-13, in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 18.

Although he wasn’t involved in their recruitment, Carey believes he’s formed a strong bond with the seniors in his first season. He has “the same feelings” for them he’s had with players he’s coached longer, Carey said. 

“My biggest regret is that I just don’t have more time with these seniors,” Carey added. “Not because of any other reason. I just like being around them. They are unbelievable guys first and foremost before football players.” 

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