It will be a nice historic touch to Saturday’s game, a tribute to one of the greatest times in Temple football history. As part of the celebration of 150 years of college football, the Owls will wear throwback jerseys to commemorate the first Sugar Bowl, which took place in 1935 and pitted them against Tulane, their opponent this weekend.
Tulane won that 1935 matchup, 20-14. Coach Glenn “Pop” Warner’s Owls squandered a 14-0 lead, and that three-day train ride back from New Orleans must not have been a lot of fun.
These are certainly different times, but the Temple players are looking forward to wearing the throwbacks.
“That is going to be big for us,” said defensive end Quincy Roche, who had 3.5 sacks in last week’s 17-7 win at South Florida. “I get excited every time we get some new swag.”
Temple is even more excited about receiving new life after the victory in Tampa. The Owls still have a chance to win the American Athletic Conference’s East Division and earn a trip to the conference championship game, but it won’t be easy. Cincinnati (5-0 AAC) leads the division, while Temple is 3-2 (and UCF is 4-2).
Temple will visit Cincinnati next weekend before the Bearcats conclude their regular season at No. 18 Memphis, which could be some tough sledding.
Temple could be in the driver’s seat in a three-way tie, but that is still a long way off. If the Owls lose to Tulane, then the next bit of excitement will come when the bowl bids are announced Dec. 8.
Temple (6-3) is bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive year. In 2014, the Owls went 6-6 to begin the bowl-eligibility string but were snubbed when bids went out.
Since then, Temple has gone to four straight bowls, and there will be a fifth straight because the Owls won’t be bypassed. For a school that has appeared in eight bowl games, it’s a big deal.
“In a macro perspective, it shows how far the program has come,” Temple center Matt Hennessy said. “Doing it consistently. It is almost an expectation at this place, which is awesome.”
The bowls are nice, but competing for a championship is better.
The AAC began conducting a conference title game in 2015, and Temple lost the inaugural one to Houston, 24-13, before winning the title with a 34-10 rout of host Navy in 2016. The last two years, Central Florida has gone unbeaten in AAC play to win the title.
Now, Temple is at least in the running. At noon Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field, the Owls will face a Tulane team (6-3, 3-2) from the West Division that is also bowl eligible.
Temple will have to be a little more creative against Tulane than the Owls were when they played in the Sugar Bowl. During their three-day train ride to the game, the Owls took a break, stopping in Atlanta. There, at the train platform, Warner held a 10-minute “workout” using a loaf of bread as a football.
Temple also made a lot of bread on the trip, $27,800 from game receipts, more than double its guarantee.
It’s great to reminisce, but moving forward, the odds aren’t in Temple’s favor to win this year’s East Division. Yet the Owls are again in the hunt. Last year, Temple finished 7-1 in the AAC, but UCF beat the Owls, 52-40, and that was the difference.
Temple’s recent contention in the AAC and its bowl-eligibility streak show that the program has remained at a high level. This doesn’t seem like much, compared to places such as Clemson and Alabama, but for Temple, contending in mid-November while already being bowl eligible is impressive.