Mike Kern | The times, they are a-changin' for Temple

Posted: October 18, 2007

THREE WEEKS AGO, it was duly noted here that winless Temple was entering a four-game stretch in which every one appeared to be winnable. So, it was suggested that it might be a good time for the Owls to go out and win some.

Guess what?

They'll take their first two-game winning streak since 2002 into Saturday's home date against Miami of Ohio (4-3, 3-0 Mid-American Conference). They haven't won three straight in one season since 1990. And for those who need to know, they have won four straight only once since 1979. That was 22 years ago in 1985, when they also lost their other seven.

On North Broad Street, it's always been something.

Now, it's mostly about new ground: first MAC win ... first MAC East Division win ... first road win since 2003. In the overall landscape of college football, it's not necessarily registering on the Richter scale. Yet in Temple's corner of it, this beats the all-too-familiar alternative.

"Belief without evidence is hard," said second-year coach Al Golden. "That's called faith. It's easier to believe now than it was 3 weeks ago ...

"There's [still] a tremendous job in front of us. And a tremendous opportunity. Two wins is not why I took this job. It's not why [Temple] wanted to have me here.

"[The coaches] knew we were going to win. We just didn't know if the players knew we were going to win."

The Owls (2-5, 2-2), who have one senior and 28 freshmen and sophomores on the depth chart, figure to have a chance in just about every remaining game. That doesn't guarantee anything. But for a team that hasn't won more than twice since 2002, it's something.

For now, the tricky part could be keeping it in the proper context. How's that for irony?

"There's a lot that [still] needs to be fixed," said fourth-year fullback Josh Bundy, who had been part of one victory over a I-A opponent before this month. "We're discovering how to become a better team. That's where we're at."

And maybe even where they're headed. Just remember to proceed according to plan.

"With all due respect, the media's poison right now," Golden said. "I have no idea what people are saying [about us]. We asked the kids to block that out when we weren't winning. You can't go back and tell them to listen at this point.

"All of a sudden they have a lot more friends on campus. That's OK. But it's not like I woke up on Sunday and approached it any different."

Sounds like a story worth sticking to.

Trivial pursuit

Hawaii's threw 75 passes in last week's come-from-behind, overtime win at San Jose State. What's the record for attempts in a game? See Answer man.

Hard to hold

Three teams have already been No. 1 this year. The last time this many teams held the top spot during the regular season was 1997, when Penn State, Florida, Nebraska and Michigan all took turns.

The record is seven, in 1981 (Michigan, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Texas, Penn State, Pitt, Clemson). In 1958, though, the first four polls had four different No. 1s (Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Army).

Next up

Michigan State has played the No. 1 team 17 times, including last October when it lost to Ohio State at home, 38-7. The Spartans are 3-13-1. Two of those wins were against the Buckeyes - in 1974 at home (16-13) and in 1998 in Columbus (28-24). Their other win was at Michigan (28-27) in 1990.

Answer man

Purdue's went 55-for-83, in a 31-24 loss at Wisconsin in 1998. The Boilermakers also ran the ball 20 times.

Spotlight On ... Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell

When the conversation turns to the folks flinging the ball around, Graham Harrell's name rarely gets mentioned first. Or perhaps even fifth. But there's no getting around his numbers.

The 6-3, 200-pound junior has thrown for 3,151 yards, with 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions, for 6-1 Texas Tech, which travels to 5-1 Missouri in a collision of big-time offenses.

"I don't worry about national recognition," Harrell said. "It's all part of playing in this system. I'm more worried about winning games."

Coach Mike Leach's way of doing things has produced some prolific predecessors. Remember Kliff Kingsbury? Or was that Cody Hodges? Anyway, someone has to pull the trigger. And Harrell might be the best of the Red Raiders' recent bunch.

"He's the point guy for the entire team," Leach said. "I think his play has elevated the play of the other guys."

Tech closes at Texas and home against Oklahoma. Who knows? A monster performance or two on some indelible stages could even elevate him into a serious candidate in a Heisman Trophy race that's becoming as difficult to sort out as that national-title chase.

Last October, Missouri won by 17 in Lubbock. Tigers QB Chase Daniel can play a little, too.

"We're going to have to go in there and match their hunger," Harrell said. "Coach Leach is really good about not letting us worry too much about distractions. He tells us not to listen to anybody, what they're saying good about you, or what they're saying that's bad."

Or sometimes, what they're not saying at all.

Sidelines

MAC ME UP:

For the first time in MAC history, nine of its teams have won a non-conference regular-season game against a I-A opponent. Nine also did it in 2000, but one of the wins was in a bowl game.

JUST CURIOUS:

I realize rankings are an inexact science. Still, how can Oregon (5-1), which lost to Cal (5-1) at home, be three spots ahead of the Bears?

SIX STILL STANDING:

Of your remaining unbeatens, the NCAA ranks South Florida's schedule as the 12th toughest. Next is Ohio State, at 72. None of the others is higher than 84.

REMEMBER:

When Miami-Florida State was one of the must-see scrums of every season? Or Southern Cal-Notre Dame? Now, they're just sort of there. Don't know about you, but I miss them.

SMALL-COLLEGE STUFF:

Ursinus is trying to get to 6-1 for the first time since 2000, despite the fact that it's minus-7 in turnover margin. Last week, the Bears (3-1 in the Centennial Conference) beat Johns Hopkins (2-5, 1-4) for the third straight time, something they'd never done before. Now, they're trying to win at McDaniel (1-5, 1-3) for the first time since 1993. The Bears lead Division III in kickoff return average, at 33.1 yards, with DeVohn Butler and Ryan VanWright doing most of that damage.

COUCH POTATO GUIDE

TONIGHT

7:30: South Florida at Rutgers, ESPN

TOMORROW

8: Louisville at Connecticut, ESPN

SATURDAY

Noon: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Ch. 6

Noon: Miami (Ohio) at Temple, Ch. 17

Noon: Northeastern at UMass, CN8

Noon: Penn State at Indiana, ESPN

Noon: Iowa at Purdue, ESPN2

12:30: Oklahoma at Iowa State, CSN

12:30: Texas at Baylor, Versus

3:30: USC at Notre Dame, Ch. 10

3:30: Michigan State at Ohio State, Ch. 6

3:30: Miami at Florida State, ESPN2

3:30: Morgan State at Delaware State, CN8

5:30: Kansas at Colorado, ESPN

8: Michigan at Illinois, Ch. 6

8: Virginia at Maryland, ESPN2

9: Auburn at LSU, ESPN

SUNDAY

8: Southern Mississippi at Marshall, ESPN

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