Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

National recognition for Temple football

The 6-0 Owls break into the rankings for the first time since 1979.

Temple head coach Matt Rhule.
Temple head coach Matt Rhule.Read more(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

IN 1979, a 10-2 Temple team that defeated California in the Garden State Bowl finished the season ranked 17th.

Now the Owls are back in the poll for the first time since then. Back then, it was still only a Top 20, not 25.

They beat winless Central Florida on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field, 30-16. That made them 6-0 (3-0 American Athletic) for the fourth time in program history, and first in 41 years. So they will be at East Carolina (4-3, 2-1) on Thursday night trying to become the first team from North Broad to ever get to 7-0. And they will go there as the country's No. 22 team in the Associated Press poll (24th in the coaches' vote).

The other years they were ranked were 1974 (one week), 1941 (two) and 1936 (also two). The '79 team, the only one to be in a final poll, was ranked a total of three weeks. Not even the 1934 team (7-1-2) that went to the inaugural Sugar Bowl made it.

"It's nice that there's some national recognition, and people are respecting how we've played," said coach Matt Rhule, who was 4 in 1979. "We have to make it mean something by being in the Top 25 at the end of the year.

"If you have success, the pressure does build. It's easy to play when you have nothing to lose. If people think we're good, there'll be pressure. If you play because you love . . . finding a way to win, then it'll be a positive thing for us."

The Owls are one of three unbeaten AAC teams in the Top 25. Memphis (6-0, 2-0), which just beat Mississippi at home, is 18th. And Houston (6-0, 2-0) is 21st. Both play in the West Division.

Only two other conferences - the Big 12 (Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State) and Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa) - also have three of the remaining 14 unbeatens.

Yo, the fact that they're already bowl-eligible is an afterthought. Think about that.

"I think our guys know the target's there," Rhule said. "If we just get out of our own way, we'll be fine. We don't talk much about goals. We want to be recognized as a good team. I want them to have high expectations. I think we can play a lot better.

"We've played half the year. As I told them, 'Hey, great job.' (But) in my mind I'm kind of like wiping the slate clean. We have another half a season. It's how you finish.

"Hopefully we'll continue to have more great memories this year. Probably after the year, we can look back and (put our accomplishments) into perspective."

Historical and otherwise.

Against UCF (0-7, 0-3), the Owls trailed by two after 45 minutes. But Jahad Thomas scored on a 22-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and again on a 21-yarder with 4:54 to go. They converted a two-pointer after each touchdown. The first was set up by a 65-yard punt return by Sean Chandler.

Thomas finished with 199 yards rushing on 31 carries. Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich got his 400th career tackle.

The Owls had four turnovers, including an interception that came back 82 yards for a TD.

The defense has allowed one TD in the last three games, a total of 40 drives. Opponents have converted just once this season on 40 third downs of 10-plus yards.

In the last three games, the Owls have converted 50 percent (22-for-44) of their third downs.

And, of course, Notre Dame in South Philly on Halloween is finally nearing the horizon.

Ohio State 38, PSU 10

The Nittany Lions (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) had won five straight, all at home, since their opening loss at Temple. But beating the top-ranked Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0), in Columbus at night wearing all black, was asking too much. Even though freshman Saquon Barkley, after missing two games with an ankle injury, rushed for a career-high 194 yards on 26 carries.

They led 3-0 after a quarter. And trailed by 18 at the half. OSU won the fourth period, 17-0. Christian Hackenberg (7-for-13, 120 yards) threw an 8-yard scoring pass to DaeSean Hamilton early in the third.

Barkley had a 44-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter nullified by a holding penalty. The Nits were stopped twice on fourth down, both on sacks.

For the Buckeyes, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 153 yards on 27 attempts, and backup quarterback J.T. Barrett had 102 on 11, with two TDs. Must be nice.

This week at Baltimore, the Lions get Maryland (2-4, 0-2), coming off a bye. In their last game, the Terps lost at OSU, 49-28.

Penn 42, Columbia 7

The Quakers (2-3, 1-1 Ivy) got coach Ray Priore his first league win by beating Columbia for the 19th straight time. This was in New York, against Al Bagnoli, who had coached them the last 23 seasons.

The week before, the Lions (1-4, 0-2) had ended a 24-game losing streak by beating Wagner, 26-3.

Columbia scored first. Penn was up by 21 after 30 minutes.

Alek Torgersen, who didn't play in last week's near-upset of nationally ranked Fordham because of a concussion, went 19-for-29 for 270 yards and three TDs. Ryan Kelly had two of those scores, on his only two catches. Half of Penn's six scores came off turnovers.

On Friday night, the Quakers host Yale (4-1, 1-1). Both their wins have come on the road, the other at then-Top 25 Villanova.

Villanova 37, Albany 0

The Wildcats (3-3, 2-1 Colonial Athletic) ended a two-game losing streak. They forced five turnovers and didn't allow the host Great Danes (2-5, 1-3) to get into the red zone. It was 10-0 at the half, 24-0 after three quarters.

It was their first win without QB John Robertson (season-ending knee injury on Sept. 19) as the starter.

Redshirt freshman Zach Bednarczyk was 12-for-12 for 152 yards and two TDs. Javon White ran for 124 yards and a score on 16 tries. Cameron McCurry had half of Villanova's four interceptions.

This Saturday, the Wildcats visit Towson (3-3, 1-2).

Michael Jack's Top 10

1. Ohio State (7-0). Beat Penn State, 38-10. Saturday: at Rutgers. Beat Rutgers, 56-17, at home last year.

2. Utah (6-0). Beat Arizona State, 34-18. Saturday: at Southern Cal. Beat USC, 24-21, at home last year. Lost in LA in 2013, 19-3.

3. Baylor (6-0). Beat West Virginia, 62-38. Saturday: vs. Iowa State. Won by 21 at Iowa State a year ago. Two years ago in Waco, it was 71-7.

4. Texas Christian (7-0). Beat Iowa State, 45-21. Next: Oct. 29 vs. West Virginia. Last three against WVU have been 31-30, 27-30 at home and 39-38, the last two in overtime.

5. Michigan State (7-0). Somehow beat Michigan, 27-23. Saturday: vs. Indiana. Hasn't lost to Indy at home since 2001. Won 56-17 last year in Bloomington.

6. Louisiana State (6-0). Beat Florida, 35-28. Saturday: vs. Western Kentucky. After this there's another week off before trip to Alabama.

7. Clemson (6-0). Beat Boston College, 34-17. Saturday: at Miami. First meeting since 2010. Visitor has won the four ACC meetings.

8. Alabama (6-1). Beat Texas A&M, 41-23. Saturday: vs. Tennessee. Has won eight straight over Vols, by average of 23 ppg. Last two at Bama were 45-10 (in 2013) and 37-6.

9. Florida State (6-0). Beat Louisville, 41-21. Saturday: at Georgia Tech. Beat Tech in last year's ACC title game, 37-35. Also beat GT in 2012 final. GT won only two regular-season meetings since 2003, in '08 and '09.

10. Florida (6-1). Lost at LSU, 35-28. Next: Oct. 31 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville). Game effort at Baton Rouge with backup QB.

10a. Notre Dame (6-1). Beat Southern Cal, 41-31. Next: Oct. 31 at Temple. Could be biggest college matchup in Philly in forever. Who figured?

Next five: Stanford (5-1), Michigan (5-2), Texas A&M (5-1), Iowa (7-0) and Memphis (6-0).

Fraud five

Michigan: If you need an explanation, then you spent Saturday watching the Food Network. Just in case, when was the last time a game was lost on the last play on a return of a fumble by the punter?

Mississippi: It's OK to lose at Memphis, which is legit, even as double-digit favorite. But maybe not by 37-24, especially after you score the first 14.

Northwestern: It's OK to lose to a nationally ranked Iowa, even at home and also ranked. But not by 40-10. Especially not the week after you lost at Michigan, 38-0.

Boise State: It's OK for the Broncs to lose once in a while in Mountain West, but 55-26 at Utah State seems a bit much. Hadn't lost to Aggies since 1997. But they had seven first-half turnovers, at which point it was 45-10. USU hadn't beaten a ranked opponent at home in 24 years. Last year's final was 50-19.

Kansas State: Shouldn't be losing to Oklahoma at home, 55-0. Especially not the week after you almost beat TCU and Sooners lost to Texas.

Dishonorable Mention: Indiana was leading Rutgers by 25 at home in third quarter before losing on last-play field goal. Knights, who missed tying PAT with 6 1/2 minutes left (figures), won closing 20 minutes, 28-0.