This Saturday Temple will not win a football game.
Instead, the Owls will sit at home, relax and think about the three games ahead that could launch the team into national rankings and a bowl bid.
Temple, coming off a 45-17 loss against Miami, has a bye week as the Owls prepare for a Nov. 4 contest versus Boston College.
The Eagles (4-3, 1-3 Big East) lost to Pittsburgh (5-1, 2-1) 42-26 last Saturday. They play Rutgers this weekend.
The Owls have been going non-stop since August, practicing and working toward their goal of a bowl game. Temple hasn’t been to a bowl since 1979 when the team competed in the Garden State Bowl.
The work has worn the team down.
“We need a rest,” coach Bobby Wallace said. “Our kids need a break bad. We’ve been going for every week since August. We’re a tired football team.”
Most of the players agree that the break will be beneficial.
“We’ve been practicing really hard, we have a lot of intense practices,” senior linebacker LeVar Talley said. “I think this break is going to benefit us in the long run.”
The long run will be the next three games. For the Owls those games will be critical. A sweep of Boston College, Syracuse and Pittsburgh would all but assure the Owls a bowl bid.
Three wins would give Temple a 7-4 overall record, and leave the Owls 4-3 in what has panned out to be a tough Big East conference.
Temple has already been through the meat of the conference with its losses to Virginia Tech and Miami.
Syracuse and Boston College will be victories if the Owls play decent football. The Pittsburgh game, which wraps up the season on Nov. 18 at Veterans Stadium, is the toughest of the three.
Pittsburgh has proven to be a dangerous team and is listed among the top 30 teams in the country.
“I think we have a chance to win all three,” Wallace said. “I’m not going to say we will win them. I’m not predicting anything, but I’m encouraged about our football team and where we are.”
Talley summed up the feelings of the team: “These last three games are critical in determining whether we’re going to be in a bowl game or sitting at home.”
The break this week will get the Owls rested and ready for the homestretch.
According to Wallace, it’s a whole new season. These last three games are a season in themselves. It is a season in which a bowl bid will go to the winner.
“We have a three-game season to play for a bowl game and I think our kids are excited about that,” Wallace said.
“We used to be down at the bottom, he added. “We’re not down there anymore. I’m more encouraged of us having a winning season and going to a bowl than I’ve ever been.”
Talley and linebacker Taylor Suman started off the season as candidates for the Butkus Award. The award, given to the best linebacker in the nation, will be awarded to someone other than an Owl in December.
Talley and Suman did not make the semifinalist cut. Big Easters Dan Morgan (Miami) and Ben Taylor (Virginia Tech) did make the list.
Morgan was also given the Nagurski Award, awarded to the best defensive player for the week. He won the award at the expense of Temple in Miami’s 45-17 victory.
Running back Tanardo Sharps remains on top of the Big East in rushing. He only gained 51 yards against Miami but is averaging 103.6 yards a game on 829 yards of rushing.