by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Fair … or not?
On the surface it seems a bit odd that Temple University’s football team doesn’t even get a sniff of the top 25 at this point. Winners of six straight, nine of 12 overall, headed to the American Athletic championship game for the second straight season, courtesy of a solid defense of its East Division crown in the conference, and bound for another bowl game following last year’s appearance, a back-to-back first in program history, the Owls seem worthy of a little more respect.
Ya know, c’mon, we got 7-4 Louisiana State and Houston, loser of two of its last three, sitting at 21 and 24 in the College Football Rankings released Tuesday night, South Florida at 23 in one poll and 24 in the other, and Navy finding itself at either 19 or 20 in all three subjective outlets.
Not for nothing, but ain’t Temple playing the Middies this weekend for AAC honors while fellow members Houston and USF sit at home? Besides, the Owls manhandled the Bulls at midseason.
LSU? SEC member, sure, but we’re not even talking a .667 winning percentage there.
Just doesn’t seem right to see those four, and others, basking in the limelight while Matt Rhule’s crew continues to toil in virtual anonymity.
Only, it is …
Point being, Temple’s strength of schedule, the way things panned out, killed it this fall in terms of paving the way to a few accolades. It’s not so much that Notre Dame was missing this time around. It’s that the conference slate didn’t hold up like it did last year.
In 2015, the Owls played eight quality opponents (winning records and/or bowl entrant), going 4-4. Thus far in 2016 they’re 1-3 with two on deck – Navy on Saturday and then whoever awaits in a bowl.
That’s just not enough “toughies” to merit much attention, especially with sporting a losing record against them.
Conversely, Navy is 3-2 in such contests, including a win against Houston when the latter was ranked sixth in the country, South Florida is 2-2, including a win against Navy when the Middies were ranked 22nd, and Houston is 3-2, including wings against then-No. 3 Oklahoma and then-No. 6 Louisville.
LSU? Hey, SEC, people, and the Tigers went 2-3 in toughies, with those losses coming against the current Nos. 1, 6 and 15 in the CFP rankings: Alabama, Wisconsin and Florida.
The first time the Owls will see a ranked team while it was ranked is this Saturday at Annapolis, Md. … as Penn State wasn’t in any poll way back in September.
All that aside, Temple put itself in a near-insurmountable hole in terms of respect by losing its opener to Army, giving such a lifeless and apparently ill-prepared effort that it anyone who watched a play or two would have a hard time believing the Owls ever could reach a righteous level, never mind a winning one.
Of course, a win against Navy likely erases that perception and pushes them into the top 25 – perhaps in the AP, Coaches and CFP rankings.