So how crazy is this all going to get? Temple's 34-26 upset at American Athletic Conference favorite Cincinnati should go down as the Owls' most significant football victory of the last quarter century - except for the victory the week before.

The Owls doubled down on their Penn State upset, their first win over the Nittany Lions since 1941, with another game-changer. After last week, I had simply adjusted a preseason Temple forecast for a 6-6 record to 7-5.

And now . . .

Well, all bets are off now. Predicting how the rest of the AAC plays out for Temple suggests you knew the Owls could hold on Saturday to beat Cincinnati.

You knew the Owls could be outplayed in the first half but still score the half's only TD in the last minute and get into the locker room ahead?

And then run back the second-half kickoff 100 yards?

And then answer a quick Bearcats touchdown with an immediate one of their own, a 56-yard run still in the half's second minute? That Temple's margin would balloon to 34-12?

Raise your hand if you've even known the name of Temple's tailback longer than 10 days. Jahad Thomas won the starting job just before the season opener. Then Thomas ran for 135 yards against Penn State. Then Thomas rushed for 193 yards against Cincinnati. And ran back that kickoff 100 yards. And had that 56-yard run. Saturday night, the Owls needed all of him.

The other costar was linebacker Tyler Matakevich. He's no surprise. Any given Saturday, Matakevich plays special. He sacked Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg three times. On Saturday night, that proverbial nose for a football saved the day. Matakevich grabbed two tipped passes for interceptions including in the end zone at the end when it looked as if Cincinnati might throw water on the whole thing.

Penn State players might want to bury copies of this Temple tape, too. If Nittany Lions fans see how well Cincinnati protected quarterback Gunner Kiel, they'll only be more confounded about what they saw at Lincoln Financial Field. Yet for all the time he had Saturday, Kiel's four second-half interceptions go down as the difference.

Going into this game, staying close to the end actually would have been another sign of progress for Temple's program. Cincinnati was the obvious and easy AAC favorite. Temple now gets to compete for both AAC and its own in-state supremacy. Getting to a bowl? Fine, plenty of mediocre teams are awarded bowl bids. This is something different now.

Last week, AP voters probably were just making sure the Owls got some votes after a historic victory. They received eight, putting them 32d overall. More than fair. Now voters have to take Temple very seriously. My view: There aren't 25 schools out there with a better pair of back-to-backs. (This week, the Owls are up to 26th in the AP poll, so plenty of voters are paying attention.)

Temple's next three games are against UMass (at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro), at Charlotte and home against Tulane. They'll be favored, favored, and favored. How crazy is this going to get?

ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi, who lived through some dark football days as a Temple undergraduate, class of '98, had it exactly right when he tweeted Saturday: "Temple beating PSU last week was about slaying past demons for the program/alumni. Tonight, is about the present - a 2015 statement."

Technically, just based on Vegas odds, these two upsets aren't nearly as big as beating No. 14 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 1998. But that was an old-style Temple upset. The Owls were 0-6 going in. They had just lost to William and Mary two weeks earlier. And there was no afterlife to it.

This season, there are all kinds of traps and sinkholes ahead. Trips to Dallas and Tampa and Greenville, N.C. - none of them mean automatic Ws.

For the first time in forever, though, fans of the Temple Owls can join other college football fans and be allowed to dream. What if the next month goes their way? There is only one more game this season the Owls really aren't supposed to even think about winning. Notre Dame comes to town Oct. 31. The ultimate trick or treat?

The local cynicism the Owls completely earned over the years is burning off rapidly. (My own cynicism about Temple ever making a real go of it in football runs pretty deep, earned the hard way, by covering the first couple of years of the Ron Dickerson era.)

Does the current euphoria mean the Owls will draw big crowds regardless of the opponent? A million-dollar question still to be answered. I estimated 60 percent of the crowd at the Penn State game wore Cherry and White. Will the fans all come back for Tulane?

That's the next home game, Oct. 10. That's Temple's homecoming. But it's not really coming home so much as showing up for something different entirely. How crazy is this going to get?

BY THE NUMBERS

328

Rushing yards by Jahad Thomas in Temple's first two games. He is third in the FBS, trailing Old Dominion's Ray Lawry and Florida State's Dalvin Cook.

168

Kick-return yards by Thomas, including a 100-yard touchdown against Cincinnati.

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mjensen@phillynews.com

@jensenoffcampus