Mr. Cosby, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Your Temple football team will not be taking home the national championship this season. The Owls opened their 2005 campaign with a heartbreaking 63–16 loss at Arizona State. The outcome remained in doubt until late in the first quarter.
The defeat opens Temple’s first season as an affiliate member of the Mid-American Conference. Fearful of being dominated by the Owls for years to come, the Big East voted to evict Temple after the 2004 season. The move saddened college football fans, who mourned the loss of the legendary Temple-Rutgers rivalry. They can only hope that the Owls start a similar tradition with MAC member Western Michigan, its September 24 opponent.
Showing the confidence of a gridiron powerhouse, Temple scheduled eight teams that played in bowls last season. The team’s aggressive defense was particularly up to the task after head coach Bobby Wallace enlisted the assistance of Temple basketball coach John Chaney, who knows how to get his players to hit people. However, the dreams of an undefeated season are now gone. Having spoiled a potential Temple-USC Rose Bowl matchup, Arizona State will likewise hope to derail the Trojans in Tempe on October 1.
Next week the Owls stay on the road to take on Wisconsin. The opening loss means that the ESPN GameDay crew will choose not to be in Madison, instead covering the Ohio State-Texas matchup in Columbus. Temple does hope to rebound from the disappointing defeat to achieve a historic double later this season: defeating Miami of Ohio and Miami of Florida. Both must travel to Philly, and after losing 12 consecutive games to their former conference mates from Coral Gables, the Owls feel that they are due.
But Thursday’s loss brings more bad news for title-starved Philadelphia sports fans. They can still hope for the best from the other tenant of Lincoln Financial Field. But to die-hard Owls fans, cheering on the Eagles just isn’t the same.