Owls having rough go of it in 2005

Sept. 23, 2005

College Football Preview: Week 4

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Take a deep breath, Temple, and try to relax.

Take a look at the schedule and realize there is no ranked team this week, no team that perennially resides in the upper half of their conference. Neither Miami team (of Ohio or Florida) is rolling into town for another few weeks and a blowout loss could be put on a one-week hiatus.

The Owls' best chance at victory, maybe its only real chance at victory, is Saturday against Western Michigan, a program not nearly as down in the dumps as Temple's but still pretty woeful. While the Owls haven't had a winning record since 1990, the Broncos lost their final 10 games last season and changed coaches.

Western Michigan at Temple. It had all the makings of Winless Bowl '05 until the Broncos went out and won a game last week, 34-28 over Division I-AA Southern Illinois. Western Michigan overcame an 11-point deficit and won for the first time since Sept. 2, 2004.

So momentum and confidence is on the Broncos' side. The Owls? Well, they have the home-field advantage? In Temple's first season as an independent and with a few more Top 25 teams littering its schedule, coach Bobby Wallace knows the Owls can't let this rare opportunity slip away.

"If we don't make our mistakes and play hard, we'll have a great chance to win," Wallace said.

The Owls haven't won since beating Syracuse 34-24 last Nov. 13. This year, the Owls haven't just lost, they've been downright embarrassed, getting outscored 170-33 to teams with a combined 8-1 record in their three losses to Arizona State, Wisconsin and Toledo.

The 11 opponents on Temple's schedule finished a combined 83-48 (.634) last year and eight teams played in bowl games. Take away Western Michigan, and their opponents went 82-38 in 2004.

"Unfortunately, they've played three pretty good teams," Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit said. "There's no doubt about it. Their talent level is above what we have. We haven't played the teams they played and they played Toledo a whole lot better than we did."

Well, there's something for the Owls to look at as a positive: They only lost 42-17 last week to Toledo while the Broncos lost 56-23 to the Rockets.

Somehow, it seems the final scores of those games won't make a difference Saturday.

What could be the difference for Temple is some sort of solid play from quarterback Mike McGann, who has struggled in his return to the starting lineup after two seasons away.

McGann, who started seven games as a freshman and started 12 games as a sophomore before losing his job and redshirting a season, hasn't given the offense a lift the way Wallace hoped.

McGann went 12-for-29 with 160 yards and an interception, and fumbled after driving to Toledo's 22 after the opening kickoff. He's completed only 39.5 percent of his attempts.

"I thought after the (Toledo) game, he had played poorly," Wallace said. "After looking at the film, he made a few mistakes, but he didn't play as bad as what I thought after the game."

Small consolation. McGann knows he has to play mistake free to give the Owls any shot at victory this year and the best chance comes Saturday.

"That's the reason I came to Temple, to try and create a winner here," McGann said. "So far, it hasn't come to fruition. Hopefully, we can make a change."