The series doesn’t have much history, but it has a fairly noticeable trend. When Temple visits South Florida on Thursday night on ESPN in an American Athletic Conference football game, the Owls will look to buck that trend.
This series is only five games old, but the home team has won every game. The games haven’t exactly been nail-biters, either. The smallest margin has been nine points, Temple winning by 37-28 in the first meeting in 2012.
So what’s up with the home advantage?
Temple senior linebacker Sam Franklin, a native of Crystal River, Fla., says climate might be a key factor.
“Me being from Florida, we normally play at the end of the year, so when we go down there it is hot and if they come up here it is cold,” Franklin said after Tuesday’s practice. “I believe the weather plays a factor.”
Last year, Temple earned a comeback 27-17 victory, taking the lead for good, 20-17, on Isaiah Wright’s 73-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter.
The game-time temperature was 42 degrees, which for Floridians is downright freezing.
The last time Temple went to USF, the Owls failed to score an offensive touchdown. USF scored the first 20 points before Temple got on the board with Jacob Martin’s 44-yard return of a fumble for a TD. Final: USF 43, Temple 7.
That game was also played on a Thursday evening, and the game-time temperature was 85 degrees.
There might be something to this climate theory, but it is obviously more than that. (For what it’s worth, Thursday’s forecast calls for a high of 88 degrees in Tampa.)
Temple enters this game feeling the heat, so to speak, after losing its last two games to SMU and Central Florida by a combined 108-42.
Both Temple and USF are coming off byes and are tied for third place in the AAC East Division. Temple is 5-3 overall, 2-2 in the AAC; USF is 4-4, 2-2. The loser of this game will switch its main goal from winning the division to attempting to become bowl-eligible.
Franklin and teammates say they can learn from their lopsided loss at USF in 2017. In fact, Franklin said he recalls losing much more than just a game on Sept. 21, 2017.
“The end of that game, I remember losing my cool. Things were not going our way, and I thought calls were going against us that weren’t fair,” Franklin said. “By losing my cool, it helped me grow a lot in my career and showed me how to handle adversity.”
Temple has had plenty of adversity that it has had to handle from the past two games. Usually upbeat linebacker Shaun Bradley conceded that the 63-21 loss to Central Florida took a little longer to get over.
“I took that last game pretty hard, and it took two to three days to get over it,” Bradley said. “I have been critical of myself and what I could have done differently. After that, I tried to get the team together, refocus our energy on USF, and continue to move forward.”
He took the loss two years ago hard, as well.
“This is a big game for me,” Bradley said. “I lost down there the last time, and so I definitely want to go down there and get a win.”