It’s 11 a.m., too early to be at a dilapidated building to see a blowout of a football game, nevertheless Temple fans are filing into Franklin Field.
The opponent is the University of Miami, the top-ranked team in the country.
The point spread is 37.
Around the country, people are betting that Temple is going to lose by more than 37 points!
What would rouse someone from sleeping off Friday night’s hangover for this?
“I want to see how good Miami really is,” junior M.I.S. major Phil Williams said in the stands at the 25-yard line as the Temple players collapse into a huddle, chanting and screaming, pumping themselves up before the noon game.
The Miami players lay on the ground a few yards away, stretching nonchalantly.
“I think we can hang with them for at least a half,” Williams said.
“They (Temple) play a lot of good teams, we’ve got to see how we measure up to them, even if it is for a few plays…”
Freshman and modern dance major Amanda Eisenhut sits near the back of the lower level of the stadium, the eyes and ears of her and her friends on the Diamond Marching Band. Drums roll, horns tune up.
Does Eisenhut think Temple has a chance to beat the Hurricanes? Does she even care?
“Not at all, we’re all here to watch the band,” she said, “we’re leaving after halftime, after the big show.
I have no spirit.
I wouldn’t be happy [if they lost], I would like us to win, but since we’re bad, it’s too early [in the morning].”
Scott Walters and a group of friends emerge from one of Franklin Field’s concrete portals with red and white stripes painted on their faces and caked on their facial hair.
“I don’t think we have a chance,” said Walters, a freshman and BTMM major, “but we’re going to beat the spread.
We’re going to lose by under 37 points. [And] we’re going to have a fun time doing it.”
The band is on the field now playing Temple’s fight song.
They turn around to a wall of orange and green of the Miami fans and play the Hurricane’s fight song.
Seems a strange thing to do. Maybe it’s reverence.
The Temple players emerge from their locker room. Some would say lambs headed for slaughter.
Some, like Eisenhut, don’t care.
Others say a team with a chance at a momentous upset. Maybe.
We’ll soon see.
It’s 7-0 Miami, nine minutes into the game.
The kick off flies through the air toward Temple’s Lawrence Wade.
The ball bounces off his shoulder pads, Miami recovers 10 yards from another TD. And Kevin Beard catches a TD pass, 14-0.
Temple is forced to punt.
Miami drives down the field, Willis McGahee scores his second TD, 21-0.
There’s still 13 minutes left in the first half. Why wouldn’t you want to still be in bed?
“Probably one more touchdown and I’ll be out of here,” says freshman John Cucinotta.
“I came to see the No. 1 team in the country. There’s probably going to be heavy traffic on the way home.”
Freshman BTMM major Bill McGrath leans against the back wall of the lower level, in a corner of the end zone, steel poles restricting some of his view.
He can still see this is quickly becoming a blowout.
“I kinda expected it,” he said, “but it is disappointing to see the score.
It’s 21-0 now? You hoped they made it a good game, stayed competitive.”
“If Temple ever did win it would be amazing, you couldn’t miss it,” said freshman JPRA major Jamie Quadrozzi, sitting in front of McGrath.
“This is the game everyone wanted to see. I don’t know why.”
Is there any chance Temple can get back into the game? “Realistically, no,” she says.
As Quadrozzi says “no,” Miami punter Freddie Capshaw fumbles a snap and Temple takes over at the Miami 21-yard line.
The Owls drive toward the end zone and Tanardo Sharps scores, 21-7. Temple kicks off.
Troy Bennett hits Miami returner Jason Geathers and he fumbles.
The ball’s at the 16-yard line, in Temple’s possession.
Sharps gets the ball and runs nearly untouched into the end zone, 21-14.
Miami fans fall silent, Temple fans go crazy.
We’re only losing to the best team in the country by seven points!
Can things get any more exciting than this? Fans are going ballistic.
This is the best fan support Temple coach Bobby Wallace says he has seen in two years.
And why not? Seven points. Miami. Oh, my.
“I think they have a good chance of pulling out an upset,” jublilant sophomore Nick Teti said, leaning on a railing on the upper level of the stadium, in such euphoria that falling from here might not hurt.
Even when Temple was losing 21-0, he said, “I still thought they had a chance.”
Quadruzzio is still in the corner of the end zone, quickly backtracking.
“I never thought they didn’t have a chance,” she said, trying to believe herself.
“You have to have hope.”
Miami kicks a field goal and takes a 24-14 lead into halftime. The fans don’t care.
Temple just scored two TDs. There hasn’t been this much excitement at a Temple home game since…
Since a long time ago.
“Dude, this is crazy,” said Walters, the face painter.
“I’d never believe it in a million years. They’re in the game with the No. 1 team in the country.
I’ve been calling all of my family to tell them to turn on the game. I have no voice.
“If we win this game … the goal posts are coming down.”
Both teams go into their locker rooms, Temple excited, Miami shocked.
They come out for the second half.
Temple has the ball.
Quarterback Mike McGann hands off to Sharps.
The running back looks to continue the momentum, his team only 10 points down. Sharps heads up field … and he fumbles. Miami recovers. McGahee rushes 44 yards for a TD, 31-14 Miami.
Eleven minutes later, McGahee scores again, 37-14. Miami is too good, Temple not good enough.
Miami scores again, 44-14. The Temple fans know how close Temple was, but the thought of an upset quickly fades. The goal posts are safe.
The Miami fans, probably representing more than half of the 33,169 in attendance (the most at a Temple home game in eight years), are now secure in their Hurricane’s 25th consecutive victory.
Things got scary there for a moment, but all is good.
Walters and friends still cheer for Temple to beat the spread. It’s a respect thing.
Mike Frost, with his frosted blonde hair, comes in to quarterback for Temple.
Against Miami’s second-team defense, he tosses a 22-yard TD pass to Sean Szarka, 44-21.
That’s better than then-No. 6 Florida’s 41-16 loss to the Hurricanes earlier in the season.
Doesn’t mean Temple is better than Florida, but the fans chant anyway.
“WE’RE BETTER THAN FLORIDA, WE’RE BETTER THAN FLORIDA.”
Let them think what they want.
“They played good, they played their hearts out,” Walters said after the game.
“This is more than we expected, they did us proud.”
And Temple loses 44-21, but the loss feels like a victory for many Temple fans.
It was a good day to wake up early.
Josh Cornfield can be reached at email@example.com.