Chris Franklin discusses the upcoming matchup between the Temple Owls and the Tulane Green Wave as the Owls fight for Bowl Eligibility.
Nov 29, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls tight end Colin Thompson (86) makes a reception and runs for a first down during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Lincoln Financial Field as head coach Matt Rhule looks on. (Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports)
PHILADELPHIA (C+P) — At the beginning of the season, there was optimism about the newly created College Football Playoff. The idea of an exciting finish to the season to determine who would be playing postseason football was one of the reasons that the conferences and athletic directors decided on the new format. The Temple Owls (5-6 overall, 3-4 AAC) have found themselves in a different sort of playoff. The Owls are just one win away from becoming a bowl-eligible team. A win could mean a continuation of their season. With a loss this weekend, it will mean no more meaningful football until September of next year.
“I want to finish this the right way,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule stated in his news conference Tuesday. “I want to finish it by getting bowl eligible and I want to finish it by winning our last game.” Rhule is looking to lead his team to a bowl game for the first time since he took the position in 2013.
Getting a win in New Orleans against Tulane (3-8 overall, 2-5 AAC) will not be an easy task. The Green Wave had a bye week heading into the matchup. Head Coach Curtis Johnson, treated the bye week as if the Green Wave were preparing for a bowl game. The Temple defense can match up well with the Tulane offense. The main key to the game will be whether Temple’s offense can score points against the Tulane defense. In the month of November, the Owls offense averaged 13 points a game; a total that placed the offensive attack 124th out of the 128 FBS schools in the country. The offense will be facing an opportunistic Tulane defense that has 27 takeaways this season. Spearheading the defense for Tulane will be cornerback Parry Nickerson. Nickerson, a freshman, is tied for the league lead in interceptions (6). Temple will also have to be patient against a defense that does not give up the big play. The Green Wave have allowed only 33 plays more than 20 yards this season.
With the win, Temple would get the necessary six wins needed to become bowl eligible. If they can garner the win, they have a decent resume that will have bowl committees seriously looking at the Owls. Temple has a win against a Top-25 opponent (East Carolina November 1st). They also have a defeat against a SEC opponent (Vanderbilt). Another factor that may play into Temple’s favor is ESPN. The American Athletic Conference has strong ties with the sports network. ESPN is one of the two networks that have a contract to televise the conference’s games. There is a good chance they will have some say in the decision of which teams will play in late December and January.
One win. That is all that Temple will need. Like everything that has occurred this season, it will not come the easy way. Can they do it? It is possible. Saturday night will have a significant impact on the near future of the program. PJ Walker is ready for this Saturday.
“Forget about every game that we played. We just have to get this one game. Everyone in the locker room is ready to go.”