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Inquirer Editorial: Eagles fans can ease the pain with thoughts of Temple, Penn State, and Villanova

So, the wheels have come off of the Wentz wagon and the Eagles are fading fast. But hold on to your snow balls, Philadelphia sports fans. All is not lost. Several area college sports teams are on quite a roll.

The Villanova men's basketball team is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country for only the second time in school history. The Temple and Penn State football teams are headed to bowl games.

It's a long way until March Madness, but Villanova moved ahead of Kentucky to the top spot after knocking off two other Philadelphia teams, Penn and St. Joe's, and then LaSalle. Oh, and just in case anyone forgot the miracle finish last April, Villanova is the defending NCAA champ.

Meanwhile, the Temple football team beat Navy on Saturday, 34-10 in the American Athletic Conference championship game. The Owls are now 10-3 and have won seven games in a row. The team is ranked No. 23 in the country, after cracking the Associated Press Top 25 football poll for the first time this season.

To top it off, Temple is headed to the Military Bowl in Annapolis on Dec. 27 against Wake Forest and has a chance to surpass last year's successful season. The team won 10 games last year, for just the second time in school history, and was ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in 36 years.

Suddenly, winning football is becoming a tradition on North Broad Street. But success comes with a price: Temple coach Matt Ruhle just jumped ship to Baylor.

Winning is also back at Penn State. The Nittany Lions pulled off a dazzling comeback Saturday to beat Wisconsin, 38-31, and win the Big Ten Championship.

It was Penn State's first Big Ten football championship since 2008 and the first outright championship since 1994. While the victory was marred by thousands of knuckleheaded fans rioting and destroying property, it signaled that football is back in Happy Valley.

Indeed, it has been a painful return to prominence. Penn State football has struggled for the last five years to escape the dark shadows of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal that led to the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno, NCAA sanctions, and tens of millions of dollars in fines and legal fees.

History will continue to judge the university's mishandling of the Sandusky abuse case for years to come. But Penn State's current roster of players — most of whom were not on the team then — are making their own history.

The No. 5-ranked Nittany Lions just missed out on getting into the four-team playoff for the National Championship. Some say Penn State was robbed since they beat No. 3 ranked Ohio State (11-1) earlier in the season. Ohio State is one of the four teams that will compete for the national championship.

For Penn State (10-2) and third-year coach James Franklin, a trip to the Rose Bowl is a well-deserved consolation prize.

Meanwhile, for Philadelphia sports fans, the winning ways at Villanova, Temple, and Penn State can help offset the long, cold winter of discontent looming for the Eagles. Maybe the Flyers or 76ers will also step up.

Inquirer Editorial Board