By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Temple runs over No. 19 Navy in the American Athletic Conference football championship game Saturday, 34-10, and even after that you can't find the Owls listed atop the circuit's standings.
Indeed, if anything screams clueless and lack of respect in regard to Matt Rhule's program – yes, even now – it is that South Florida, a team Temple trounced six weeks ago, 46-30, remains the first team posted among the AAC East Division members.
Yeah, we get it. The 10-2 Bulls have a better overall record, and they matched the Owls' 7-1 conference mark. But, c'mon, head-to-head ...
It's just unreal, ridiculous ... and utterly predictable.
Yo, who's in charge of these leader boards, the Philadelphia sports media ... or Penn State fans?
Enough already. In erasing any doubt as to the merits of their recent success, the Owls have earned a spot in the top 25, a decent bowl bid at minimum and some modicum of acknowledgement. Getting a nod of approval from the region's masses, especially if it means taking any attention away from in-state Big Brother, may be too much to ask. But it is deserved.
Put it this way, the hyperbole first floated here about how this group of Owls was better than last year's ballyhooed edition back when it was manhandling the Bulls, well, that really wasn't hyperbole. Once Temple turned the corner a week before with dramatic, game-saving win at Central Florida, there was no stopping it.
All told, Philly's own major-college football team has rattled off seven straight victories by an average score of 33-13. In its last four, the defense has been even more dominate, giving up just 5 points per game.
That effort against the Midshipmen, spearheaded by linebacker Jarred Alwan (13 tackles) and safety Sean Chandler, was mind-blowing. Navy had scored 141 points in its previous two games and averaged 42 per game throughout the regular season. It possessed the nation's second-leading ground attack, churning out 342 rushing yards per game.
Yet the Owls shut down the Mids right out of the chute, grabbing a 21-0 advantage in the process of silencing Navy on its first three possessions and holding it to just 168 yards on the ground throughout the contest.
All the talk pregame was about whether the Mids would leapfrog Western Michigan in the non-Power 5 school chase for a spot in the Cotton Bowl. Frankly, after witnessing those two and Temple, right now you'd have a hard time convincing me that the Owls are not better than both. By a lot.
You got some cool stuff that comes out of the contest for Temple. It marked the program's first major-conference football title and its third 10-win season, matching a school mark set in 1979 and matched last fall. Quarterback Phillip Walker further advanced his status as the standard for ultimate leader. Running backs Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead both inched closer to 1,000-yard rushing campaigns, ironically each checking in with the same total now: 918.
Of course, one game remains, too – a bowl that is expected to be determined today.
Hopefully, it will offer something better than comical for Temple ... because the Owls certainly deserve better.