BUFFALO, NY -- It all started so well for Temple, scoring the game’s first touchdown on its first drive for the third consecutive week. After that, the Owls simply couldn’t escape disaster.
Bad throws, bad drops, bad runs, bad snaps and finally a bad result for the Owls.
Buffalo steamrolled Temple, 38-22, on Saturday at UB Stadium in a game that the Owls didn’t marginally wake up until the fourth quarter, when the game had well been decided.
Temple (2-1) now must prepare to face former Owls coach Geoff Collins and Georgia Tech, which visits Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
After going down 7-0, the two-touchdown underdog Bulls (2-2) reeled off 31 unanswered points.
In sticking to the bad theme, there was a postgame press conference minus any Temple players.
When asked about the silent treatment, Owls coach Rod Carey first talked about how the players had a short window to catch their plane, but then realizing few would buy that explanation, he came clean.
“To be dead honest with you, they are a hurting group, they are kids and it is my job to protect them,” Carey said. “In this case — I won’t do that all the time to you, you guys know that — this one, they are hurting a little bit, so you have got to keep that in mind.”
If they could talk, the players likely would have pointed out the way the Buffalo offensive line and running game enjoyed sustained dominance.
For the underdog Bulls to seemingly have a chance, they would have to win the time of possession and take advantage of their two major strengths, a veteran offensive line and a running game that entered the day first in the Mid-American Conference in rushing, averaging 225 yards per game.
The Bulls were dead-on with both units dominating.
Buffalo rushed for 217 yards and four touchdowns on 58 carries. Even though the Bulls averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, they won the time of possession 37:09 to 22:51.
For a team coming off a 35-17 loss to Liberty, Buffalo did an about-face in this one, executing the time of possession game plan to perfection.
“Against a team like Temple our theory was if we could find a way to establish a running game, use clock when we can, try to get the game into the fourth quarter and find a way to win it,” Buffalo coach Lance Leipold said.
The only thing flawed with the theory was that Buffalo led 31-10 entering the fourth quarter, so there was no need to find a way to win by then. Temple would eventually get down 38-10 before scoring the final two touchdowns.
Carey said he was proud of his team for fighting to the end. Imagine how his counterpart felt.
“Our guys really worked hard this week, especially playing Temple coming off their big win and our performance at Liberty,” Leipold said.
He was referring to Temple’s 20-17 win over then No. 21 Maryland. The Owls were coming in sky-high and Buffalo was picking itself off the mat.
Now the mat is where Temple will reside this week while preparing for Georgia Tech.
Owls quarterback Anthony Russo completed 25 of 51 for 258 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He often overthrew receivers, but Temple also dropped a good number of passes.
After Russo hit Isaiah Wright for a 2-yard touchdown on the Owls’ first possession, things snowballed for the Owls.
Leading 7-3, Temple had a bad snap in punt formation that resulted in a 40-yard loss, giving the Bulls the ball at the Temple 7-yard line. Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson (27 carries, 133 yards, two TDs) scored two plays later and Buffalo would take a 10-7 lead with 11:32 left in the second quarter.
A strip sack of Russo by Ledarius Mack, brother of Chicago Bears All-Pro Khalil Mack, that was recovered by Eric Black at the Temple 19, led to another score.
The drive was kept alive when Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley was ejected for targeting redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Myers on a third down incompletion.
Another touchdown with 22 seconds left in the first half made it 24-7 at intermission. When Patterson scored with 6:46 left in the third quarter the rout was on.