Sweet Home Philadelphia: Temple Wins MAC Opener at Home over Buffalo

Manny GeraldoCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2009

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Chester Stewart #7 of the Temple Owls runs with the ball during a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on September 19, 2009 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Big Owls keep on hootin’

Carry us home to a win

Singing songs about the Linc

I miss Philly once again

And I think it's a sin, yes

“Sweet Home Philadelphia,” idiotically rendered from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s much better “Sweet Home Alabama.” Many apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alabama Crimson Tide fans.

Two weeks and two losses later, the Temple Owls have their first win. At home in Philadelphia, the Owls easily defeated the Buffalo Bulls (confusing with the Bills occupying the city as well, right?) 37-13—a more than satisfying win after a last second Hail Mary spurred Buffalo to a heartbreaking 30-28 win last season.

That occurred in Buffalo; this season, at home, the results were refreshingly different.

This seems to bode well for Temple. Last season, three of five wins were at home. This Buffalo win may be a harbinger of wins to come. Temple takes on Ball State, Army, Miami (OH), and Kent State all at home. Both Ball State and Miami (OH) are winless, and neither Army nor Kent State has looked impressive on the road yet.

Temple used a dominating rushing attack and harassing defense to dominate the Bulls, leading 20-6 at the half and leading 30-6 heading into the fourth quarter. The defense forced five turnovers, including four interceptions of sophomore quarterback Zach Maynard. One of those interceptions was returned 95 yards for a touchdown by Elijah Joseph.

Running back Bernard Pierce paced the running game with 116 yards and a score. Special teams came up big with a second quarter 92-yard kickoff return by James Dixon that ignited the Owls thereafter. 

The win also demonstrates the transformation the Owls have undertaken—a transformation that can be directly influenced by coach Al Golden. Uncharacteristically, the Owls didn’t let up. They finished the game strong. This marks a difference from Temple teams in the past, especially last season, where late second half collapses and the inability to finish games resulted in close losses.

If Temple can continue this transformation, Coach Al may lead the Owls to their best record in decades and much coveted bowl eligibility.

Defeating Buffalo was a big win for Temple and Coach Al. Handily beating the defending MAC champions at home allows the Owls to leave behind the two early season losses and readies the team for conference play. Temple boasts maybe the conference’s best defense and has a legitimate shot at MAC championship contention.

Next week the Temple Owls are on the road again (for my Willie Nelson fans) facing Eastern Michigan, a team still searching for its first win. Outside of their native land of Philadelphia, they need to continue their strong play.

While the Owls can always come home, their ability to win on the road will be a strong indicator whether they have a shot at winning the MAC this season.