Game-By-Game Predictions for Temple's 2014 Season
Matt Rhule’s first-year product fell to Fordham -- granted the Rams were one of the better teams the FCS had to offer -- and was beaten by an Idaho squad that lost 11 games by an average of 31.1 points.
And then something changed.
That something was sparked by the emergence of true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker, who was thrown into the fire by October. But instead of Rhule packing it in for the season and letting underclassmen get decent looks for evaluation, Walker ignited the offense and gave the Owls a reason to dress for game day.
Temple finished the latter half of the season with a 2-4 record, beating Army by 19, taking out Memphis by 20 on the road, and losing to SMU, Rutgers and UCF by a total of 16 points.
With a solid recruiting class and a stud quarterback to build around, there’s hope for Temple to return to the long-lost Al Golden days – but it won’t happen in 2014.
We should see some significant improvement on both sides of the ball. Will it be enough to land the Owls a bowl bid? Let’s break down their upcoming schedule:
8/28 – at Vanderbilt: LOSS
James Franklin is no longer running the show in Nashville, but Vanderbilt won’t fall too far from grace in its first season under Derek Mason. P.S. Temple will get its date with Franklin later on.
9/6 – vs. Navy: LOSS
Temple returns a lot of experience and depth within the defensive front seven, but won’t be able to stop Navy’s triple-option attack with dynamic rusher Keenan Reynolds playing quarterback.
9/20 – vs. Delaware State: WIN
There’s nothing better than seeing an FCS school on your schedule after facing two quality opponents. Temple should earn its first win of the season in high-scoring fashion.
9/27 – at Connecticut: WIN
Expect Temple’s offensive line to have some success opening holes for lead backs Kenneth Harper and Zaire Williams, and Walker to spread the field with his uncanny dual-threat abilities. UConn’s defense is usually its strength, but could really struggle to get opposing offenses off the field.
10/11 – vs. Tulsa: WIN
I sound like a broken record by saying this, but Tulsa just isn’t going to have the weapons on offense to win games. The Golden Hurricane should be able to find some efficiency against a suspect Temple secondary, but 24-plus-points will be needed to win this one and there’s no way that happens.
10/17 – at Houston: LOSS
If it weren’t for the overall discrepancy of talent across the board, I’d take Temple here. Walker provides a matchup problem for Houston’s defense and will have one of the better games of his sophomore campaign, but the Cougars are the better team and will need to beat themselves to lose.
10/25 – at Central Florida: LOSS
UCF needed a miracle to escape Philadelphia in 2013, but I don’t expect that to happen again. Temple will show its youth in this AAC showdown, as an inexperienced offense attempts to handle a Top-30 caliber defensive unit that returns the majority of its starters from its Fiesta Bowl-winning 2013 campaign and will be hungry to avoid a repeat performance.
11/1 – vs. East Carolina: LOSS
This has the makings to be one of the highest-scoring games the American Athletic Conference puts forth all year. However, ECU’s group has been at it longer and will put 45-plus on the board.
11/7 – vs. Memphis: WIN
Memphis has a ton of issues in the secondary, and on top of must replace both starters at safety. Walker torched the Tigers’ back seven during his freshman debut, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again.
11/15 – at Penn State: LOSS
Don’t worry Temple fans, you’ll get your dose of James Franklin here. Expect Penn State super sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg to have his way with the Owls’ secondary in a 21-point landslide.
11/29 – vs. Cincinnati: LOSS
Between John O’Korn, Shane Carden, Christian Hackenberg and Gunner Kiel, the Owls are seeing a ton of premier quarterbacks in 2014. It’s going to be difficult to keep Cincinnati’s offense out of the red zone; big plays won’t be hard to come by for the Bearcats’ passing game.
12/6 – at Tulane: LOSS
Losing five of six isn’t an ideal way to end the season, but Temple will have significantly improved as a team by this point and will have a lot to look forward to in 2015. Bowl games are coming.
2014 Temple Projected Record: 4-8 (3-5)
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