A trifecta usually is a word associated with the sport of horse racing, but in a matter of only a couple of days, the Temple football team is close to completing as impressive a streak-breaking trifecta as has ever existed in college football.
A road win over Massachusetts is expected on Saturday afternoon, and if the Owls do the job, come Sunday they will almost definitely be ranked in the top 25 for the first time since finishing No. 17 in both major polls in 1979. That 36-year streak will come to an end one week after beating Cincinnati for the first time in 30 years and two weeks after beating Penn State for the first time in 74 years.
If there is another school in the history of the game that has slayed three demons like that in the first three weeks, I would like to see the evidence. Temple is now tops in “others receiving votes” or No. 26.
Of course, the ranking depends on beating the Minutemen which, given the available evidence at hand, should not be problematic. Temple’s Jahad Thomas is the nation’s third-leading rusher with 328 yards in two games, and the Minutemen have a defense that gave up 390 yards on the ground at Colorado a week ago in a 48-14 loss. Feeding him the ball should be enough to get it done.
Unless the Owls try to throw the ball all over the lot, they should be able to move the ball on the ground with relative ease and keep the ball away from one of the Minutemen’s few assets, quarterback Blake Frohnapfel.
Temple’s 34-26 win at Cincinnati was their first over the Bearcats since 1985, but it wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Owls took a 34-12 lead in the fourth quarter before going to a prevent defense and trading time off the clock for yards and points. Neither was the win over Penn State, as the Owls spotted the Lions a 10-0 lead before scoring the final 27 points of the game. They closed out the game on a drive deep into Penn State territory, also giving up a chance to add points in order to run out the clock.
Comparatively speaking, a Minutemen team that finished 3-9 in the MAC a year ago should not represent much of a problem. With a win, plus a loss by one of the three teams right above the them — Northwestern (23), Wisconsin (24) or Oklahoma State (25) — the Owls will join a rather exclusive club again and continue a season of slaying some significant past demons.