They're better than last year.
Read it again.
They really are.
Oh, there is no denying the dent the Temple Owls made in the college football nation's conscience a fall ago. Starting out 7-0, beating Penn State for the first time in 74 years in the process, and then playing Notre Dame to a standstill in a primetime Saturday night showdown watched by millions. They even managed to get an individual some long overdue recognition, with linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the bell cow for leading the Owls out of their previous abyss, earning first-team All-America honors as well as several defensive player of the year awards.
But, right now, 10 games into this autumn's gridiron exercise, Temple is better than it was in 2015. The record may not show it, with this edition's 7-3 mark following Friday night's shutdown of American Athletic Conference rival Connecticut one tick behind. The eye test, though, does ... and it's not exactly a neck-and-neck competition.
A year ago, the Owls were the kings of winning despite being beaten, the standard-bearers for escaping by the hair of their chinny chin chins. Put it this way, they just as easily could have been 3-4 entering that unforgettable ND week if not for absolute magic acts against Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Central Florida and East Carolina, and that 60-point outing at Southern Methodist merely masked what had been a one-possession game with just a few minutes to go – although it also served as the precursor to a 2-3 close to the season.
This year, they're dominating in wins, and getting stronger as things move along. Since blowing a winnable game at Memphis, they Owls have rattled off four straight victories, the last three in stuff-it-down-the-opposition's throat fashion.
Behind Ryquell Armstead, Jahad Thomas and an offensive line gelling like it never did in 2015, Temple has run up 319, 275 and 216 yards on the ground, respectively, the last three weeks – against chief AAC East Division rival South Florida, Cincinnati and then UConn, which entered the most recent contest ranked among the country's top run defenses before getting steamrolled.
You know what Temple has brewing right here? A solid program under the direction of fourth-year head coach Matt Rhule – now a solid two games above .500 during his tenure here despite finding himself in a 10-game hole after Year 1.
Armstead has emerged as a star, and rightfully has replaced Thomas as the featured ballcarrier so as to get last season's breakout star a chance to step outside and do some serious damage. Thomas burned the Huskies for 73 yards and two touchdowns receiving.
Haason Reddick has supplanted, if not – gulp – surpassed Matakevich as the defensive stalwart, ranking among the nation's best with 18 tackles for loss.
The big thing, though, is that Temple doesn't seem to miss a beat even when those guys are out anymore, and that's a sign that the program is getting some solid footing ... and that these Owls are better than last year's Owls.