SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/26/2006 01:35:00 PM
Temple Football: A Sure Thing
It's already looking like a wholly forgettable year for Temple coach Al Golden and the Owls.
I generally stay away from writing about gambling-related angles, but this one was simply too juicy to pass up. Reading through this weekend's lines in USA Today on Monday, I couldn't help but notice that Temple is a 33-point underdog Saturday ... to Vanderbilt!
Now, I realize this is not the same old Vandy. We all saw Jay Cutler lead the Commodores to wins over Tennessee and Arkansas last year and take Florida to overtime. This year, they've come within a field goal of both the Razorbacks and 'Bama. Still, no one's going to be confusing Vandy with Ohio State or USC anytime soon. It's just that Temple, which starts a freshman quarterback (Vaughn Charlton) and has played 18 other true freshmen (a Division I-A high), is that bad.
Following consecutive 62-0 losses to Louisville and Minnesota, the Owls, currently on a 16-game losing streak, were a 30-point underdog last week to Western Michigan. They didn't cover, losing 41-7. "I've never seen a team in the last 10 years that's been this non-competitive," said Mike Seba, senior oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which sets college football lines for many Vegas sports books. "It's not asking that much [for Vanderbilt] to cover 33."
Seba, who I spoke with Tuesday morning, was extremely helpful. For one thing, he took more than an hour out of his day to research the answer to one of my questions, which was: Has Vanderbilt ever been a 33-point favorite on someone? His data only went back to 1980, but the answer was: No. The only semi-close occasion was Oct. 11, 1997, when the Commodores were 22-point favorites at Northern Illinois (which was in the midst of a 23-game losing streak). Vandy won 17-7.
Seba also helped explain how he arrived at the 33-point spread. It represents the differential between the two teams' power ratings. A "dead-average" team receives a power rating of 50, with an elite team like USC closer to 70. In Seba's ratings, Vanderbilt (1-3) is a 52; Temple (0-4) is a 19.
"Vanderbilt is an underrated team; people think, 'Oh, they lost Cutler, they're not going to be any good,' but they have a very good defense," said Seba. "It's not about Vanderbilt, though, it's about Temple. They're a touchdown worse than they were last year [when the Owls went 0-11]."
Furthermore, Seba said sports books may soon be forced to take Temple's games off the board. "If they get beat bad again this week, we'd send out an alert to our clients to take lower limits on their games," he said. "And then if they get blown out again the next week [against Kent State], we'll stop putting lines on their games."
In other words, get in on the gold rush while you can.
How does this happen? I know somebody has to be #119, but wow, how does a school that was once a BCS team fall this low? I know, I know...losing 41-13 to Syracuse, Miami, Pitt and WV on a regular basis in the '90s '00s was pretty low, but this year (and last) is just another level entirly.
Really, how does this happen? Should they drop to I-AA or switch to the option, and run their way to 5-7 every year in an attempt to be Navy-lite?
they'll be competitive in 3 years, will challenge for MAC title in 5, mark my words... just consider this a rebuilding with no foundation, but they have a great 1st year coach and a lot of freshman, the best facilities (they play at the Eagles Lincoln financial Field) in the MAC (which they will join next year). I say Temple will be in Bowl games relaively son and will one again recieve consideration from BCS conferences in 10-12 years.
I agree with the Temple coach in saying Vanderbilt in an underrated team this season. New QB Chris Nickson is as mobile as they come at the position, and his support cast is better than anything Cutler ever had. The defense is on the cusp of being a legit SEC team in terms of athleticism.
A FG into the wind that fell a foot short would've beaten Arkansas, and they lost to Alabama in Tuscaloosa by 3. They played Michigan better than the 27-7 score showed, and put up a better fight in Ann Arbor than Notre Dame did at home.
Vandy has a legit shot at covering the spread, that is, if Bobby Johnson doesn't run up the score.
Philly is similar to Beantown when it comes to football - big on pro (Eagles) while Temple, with no major conference alignment, will forever languish. They should take the path of Villanova and lower their sites.
Sure, it was some 30 plus years ago, but what was the key to Temple success from 1970-1979 (66-34-2=.657)? Was it speed, brawn, defense, offense or scheduling (remember they beat the likes of Boston College & West Virginia and took Penn St to the final gun with two 1 point losses).
Maybe if the coaching staff would take a closer look back at those years and compare the offense & defense style they used then as well as comparing the players in all postions to the ones they have now, it may shed some light in which direction Temple should go other than running around in circles.
4:10PM - You are out of your frickin' mind. Western Michigan is only an average MAC team and Temple couldn't even come close to them. In the last 10 years, Temple is 4-16 against MAC teams. If Temple even goes 4-4 in conference they should throw a parade. What the hell was the MAC thinking when they invited them?
Why did the MAC invite Temple?? The MAC was trying to find a way to get Buffalo out of the "cellar." It may work!! Buffalo beat Temple 9-3 in OT earlier this year. What a defensive battle they staged. It was 0-0 going into the 4th Quarter.
College football comes down to recruits period! Temple is bascially a commuter school and can't pull top notch talent to downtown Philly. It's hard to have a decent college football program in the downtown vicinity of a major city (USC is an exception that comes to mind).
But make no mistake the Owls always place guys in the NFL.
Not sure where the previous blogger compared Philly to Beantown (Boston) when it comes to football. Yes, Boston is big on the Pats but there are plenty who care about BC. I would imagine much more than people care about Temple in Philly. BC has had a lot more success than Temple. I don't think Temple has played in and won 6 straight bowl games. That comparison is random and weird for that matter.