By Harry Allison
Remember the 2014 season, when Temple went 6-6 but was shut out of a bowl game thanks in part to basic snobbery of the voters who must have thought the Owls were a hoops-only school?!
Already this year’s Owls have pulled off the story of the first year by beating Penn State 27-10.
Seventy-three years and 322 days had passed since Oct. 18, 1941, the last time Temple beat Penn State. In between, the two had played 39 times — 38 Penn State wins, one 7-7 draw in 1950. Most of the 69,176 who filled Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday did not expect any interruption of long-accepted tradition.
It jarred the idea of Penn State as upward-bound in the second year under coach James Franklin. The development of junior Christian Hackenberg, the statuesque quarterback said to stoke NFL salivation, took another dent.
Temple sacked him 10 times, and linebacker Tyler Matakevich said, “Biggest thing we did today, we started disguising, and you could tell he got really uncomfortable.”
The 27-10 outcome, hatched from an early 10-0 Penn State lead, was another benchmark for a program that often has gone uncommonly parched between benchmarks. Temple went 22-88 in the 1990s, 34-83 in the 2000s (with a 9-4 mark under Al Golden in 2009 burnishing that). When it won at Virginia Tech in 1998, some considered it among the greatest upsets in human history.
It’s fair to say that many Americans, on occasion, have forgotten the program exists.
Now, Rhule can’t wait to dial prospective recruits who know it exists. Temple giddily has reduced its points deficit against Penn State, lifetime, from minus-870 to minus-853. Its “Cherry and White defense,” as a Temple report noted, has alerted many to the existence of any Cherry and White defense. The spectators in a rare Temple sellout — largely Penn State fans — can say they witnessed something deeply rare. (“We come out and there were all those people there, it was awesome,” Rhule said. “You look on the sidelines, there was Chip Kelly, there’s 15 NFL scouts there.”)
Best of all, some chronic underdogs got themselves a day. “It was wonderful, man, everybody jumping around, singing the fight song, everybody excited,” defensive lineman Nate D. Smith said of the post-game locker room.
Now and across the fall, let’s see about that bowl.