It’s a new season with a new coach for the Temple Owls. Unfortunately, the 2019 season ended eerily similar to last year.
Temple allowed 56 points in the Independence Bowl loss to the Duke Blue Devils. Duke played so well in the game that many have joked that the Owls are the reason why Daniel Jones was selected early in last year’s NFL Draft.
Fast forward a year later, the result was almost exactly the same. In another bowl game against an Atlantic Coastal Conference opponent, the Owls yielded 55 points to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Military Bowl on Friday.
Freshman quarterback Sam Howell threw for 294 yards and three touchdown passes, and also had a touchdown reception for the Tar Heels. His 38 touchdown passes for the season is a FBS record for a true freshman, and 3,641 passing yards is an ACC record for true freshman as well.
Temple finishes the season with an 8-5 mark once again, and despite going bowling for a fifth straight season, they have won just one postseason game in that span. For Rod Carey, it was his seventh appearance in a bowl game and he remains winless in postseason play.
The Owls never led in the game, but were still in it after Re’Mahn Davis’ 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter made it 10-6. Anthony Russo connected with Jadan Blue three times on the drive, including a 60-yard catch and run, to set up the score. Blue became the first player in school history to go over 1,000 yards receiving on the 60-yard reception. He finishes the season with 95 receptions and 1,067 yards, both program records, and four touchdowns after recording just three catches heading into the season.
That is when things got ugly for Temple. UNC scored 31 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to run away with the game. The Tar Heels led 20-6 entering the half, and put the game out of reach with two touchdowns in 12 seconds. Just seconds after Antonio Williams opened the second half with a 1-yard rushing score, Russo was picked off by Storm Duck, who returned the interception 20 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, it was 34-6.
Davis scored his second touchdown of the game, a 45-yard reception, but it was too little, too late at that point. The Owls trailed 41-13 before allowing North Carolina to add another two scores in the fourth quarter.
It was a painful reminder of the previous bowl game. In last year’s loss to Duke, Temple led 27-14 late in the second quarter. The Blue Devils went on to score 42 unanswered points in the rout.
The similarities don’t end there. Temple ran for just 78 yards and had 272 yards of total offense, while the defense gave up 534 to the Tar Heels. They turned the ball over twice. Last season, the Owls rushed for 53 yards, 281 total yards with two turnovers. The defense allowed 563 yards.
It was another crushing loss for a senior class that was only the second in school history to play in four consecutive bowl games. The Owls lone bowl win came against FIU in the 2017 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
Temple will lose 16 seniors, including several starters on both sides of the ball and basically the entire linebacker corps. The losses likely will not end there. Kenny Yeboah has already announced that he will enter the transfer portal, and he might not be the only one to do so. American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche has a decision to make about whether or not to forego his senior season and enter the draft.
The Owls will get their shot at another ACC team to open the 2020 season at Miami. The two former Big East members haven’t played each other since 2005, and the Hurricanes have a 13-1 record against Temple. However, Temple will have some added fire in this game as Miami head coach Manny Diaz was the Owls coach for 18 days in a wild turn of events last year.
Temple defeated Georgia Tech, another ACC team, earlier in the season that featured former head coach Geoff Collins. However, they might want to avoid ACC teams in bowl games.