Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's time to forget the Big East

BSU did something this year a TU team hasn't done since 1990: Beat a Big 10 team.

I did not go to Harvard, but at least I went to the place my professor, Norm Kaner, called "Harvard on The Delaware."
Kaner taught a course at Temple called "Sports in American Society." It was a cake elective. A football player sat beside me, in front of me and to the left of me.
When I heard the greatest kickoff returner in the United States, James Nixon, flunked out of school this summer, I wish he knew about Kaner's Sports in America course. With that course and Basket Weaving 101, he'd still be here.
Mike Gerardi threw a nice deep ball against Villanova and Akron, but he seems like a forgotten man now and I don't know why

Despite the easy elective, Professor Kaner was a very smart man. While most (err, many) of my fellow Temple fans have spent the past few weeks gnashing their teeth over whether or not the Owls will be invited into the Big East, I used my Harvard on the Delaware education to figure something out this week.
Simply, the clear message is forget the Big East.
Don't get me wrong.
It would be nice to be wanted, but that's not the most important thing right now.
The most important thing right now is beating Ball State, not going to the Big East, not winning the MAC, not even becoming the "Boise State of the East" but beating Ball State.
Beat Ball State and it becomes possible to win the MAC and win the MAC and it becomes possible to expand horizons beyond the MAC.
Lose to Ball State and the wheels come off the Temple bandwagon very fast. With one MAC loss already, it's going to be difficult if not impossible to win the MAC East with two losses. This fragile fan base will collapse, too.
None of this is going to be easy, starting Saturday (2 p.m.) in Muncie, Ind.
Before Temple played Toledo, I thought the Owls really had a chance to be the "Boise State of the East."
Then I saw the difference between Temple and Boise State was as big as the gap between the abilities of one Kellen Moore and one Chester Stewart.
Boise State beat Toledo, 40-15, and Moore hit receivers 40 yards downfield like he was handing off to them. Toledo beat Temple, 36-13, and Stewart tried to hit receivers 20 yards away with the kind of futility that made you think they were 2,000 yards away.
Big difference.
That's why this is going to be a tough game on Saturday. I don't see the Owls' offense getting a whole lot of separation from Ball State, like the high-octane offense of Oklahoma, because the Owls can't hit an open receiver 20 yards downfield to save their lives.
Temple lost to Penn State, 14-10.
Indiana lost to Penn State, 16-10.
Ball State beat Indiana, 27-20.
Forget about Ball State's double-digit losses to South Florida and Oklahoma. Those are teams with sophisticated passing games. Temple's passing game, the last couple of weeks at least, is something out of the Teddy Roosevelt Era.
With Steve Addazio sticking with Chester Stewart, it tells you that he doesn't have any other options. Or at least he doesn't think he has any other options. Mike Gerardi threw a nice deep ball against Villanova and Akron, but he seems like a forgotten man now and I don't know why. Gerardi's ability to throw deep opens everything up for Bernard Pierce underneath.
Temple isn't going to get it done with a lot of short passes, like it did against Maryland. Toledo figured that out. Going forward, Ball State and others probably will figure it out, too.
I'm not exonerating the defense against Toledo but if your offense continually goes three-and-out, it's going to take both a psychological and physical toll.
That means, if Temple wins this game, it is going to be a low-scoring, 13-10, 21-14, type game. Temple is going to have to win this game on the defensive side of the ball.
Forget the Big East.
At least until Sunday.