So, about this Temple Owls team we saw tonight, tearing Vanderbilt to pieces. About the Owls that, between November and tonight learned how to keep teams from throwing on them at will. P.J. Walker living up to every bit of regional and modest national hype he received this season. The Temple Owls of Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA walked into SEC territory and bludgeoned their hosts. Temple beat Vanderbilt 37-7.
Yes, I know it was Vanderbilt’s first game under new head coach Derek Mason. I know Vanderbilt lost a great deal of talent and the greatest coach in their program’s modern history. You could list any number of special circumstances that make this not that cool a thing to have accomplished, but to do that is to ignore that this is Temple.
I grew up within the radiation zone of the nuclear wasteland that was Temple football through the 90s and early 2000s. Even under Al Golden, I never saw them do anything like this, especially to an opponent from one of the major conferences. This was noteworthy.
Temple got out to a lead and forced Vanderbilt to rely on an inexperienced quarterback, and this would ultimately cripple the Vanderbilt offense. Walker and the Temple offense were able to take advantage of a defense that was playing its first game in a new scheme, and was heavy on the inexperience. Everything went the way Temple needed it to. Eventually.
After multiple delays due to lightning storms in Nashville, TN, the game began minutes before 11 p.m. EST. It took a while for the offenses to get into any kind of rhythm, which could be attributed to the slick playing field and general atrophy that goes with having a game delayed for well over an hour. Temple opened the scoring with a 35 yard touchdown pass from Walker to Brandon Shippen. Walker was on, making good on the promise he showed much of last season.
In classic Temple fashion, however, the game was tied on a goofy play. The ball was snapped over punter Alex Starzyk’s head and into the endzone, where he was unable to control the ball and take a safety--leading to a Vanderbilt recovery for a touchdown. This would not be the only weird punting play of the game.
However, in showing the poise of a team that has grown from a season of close losses and disappointment the Owls didn't clam up. They scored the next points of the game on Walker’s second touchdown pass on a screen to Jalen Fitzpatrick with 2:07 to play in the half.
Shortly after Patton Robinette was benched in favor of Philip Rivers’ kid brother Stephen, he was sacked and stripped of the ball, which Temple recovered for a touchdown 39 seconds before halftime. Temple would carry a 21-7 lead into the half.
Vanderbilt punt returner Darrius Sims muffed a punt early in the 3rd quarter, which set Temple up with real estate on the shores of the red zone. Walker quickly connected on a pass that moved the team within the 5 yard line, ultimately leading the team to 3 points.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, Vanderbilt replaced Rivers with redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary, who threw an interception on his first attempt. Temple quickly responded with two quick Walker passes to put them inside the 10 yard-line, one of which saw Fitzpatrick make what will surely be highlighted as one of the best catches of the weekend. Temple converted on a 3 yard Walker run to go ahead 31-7.
The final score would end up 37-7. Temple started their season on the best possible note with a victory of the magnitude that few outside the Owls' locker room could have anticipated. Their next action is Saturday September 6th vs. Navy at Lincoln Financial Field at 1:00 p.m.