At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, I will take a moment to do just that.
Let's talk about, say, the Penn State game three months from today.
(Let me just say, before going any further, that beating Villanova is one million times more important than beating Penn State. It's imperative. It's a demand, not a request. You cannot lose to Villanova again and retain any hometown credibility for the program.)
Still, I've fast-forwarded myself to Beaver Stadium (great name, by the way—just sayin'), sitting with 110,000 of my fellow college football fans, 5,000 of whom may be rooting for the Owls against Penn State on Sept. 25.
Making that 250-mile trip has been usually as futile a project for Owl fans as trying to end world hunger or getting the Republicans to pass a health care bill with a public option.
It's been that way since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. That's the last year Temple won.
Maybe not so much this year. Temple's got a little more than a puncher's chance this year.
You know it.
I know it.
The rest of those 105,000-plus fans don't know it, though.
The best compliment Temple received in recent years from Joe Paterno was a backhanded one, saying, "Temple looked good. They didn't have any fat guys."
Beating Joe Paterno would be a big fat win for Temple.
Most of the Penn State fans in the Philadelphia area give lip service to the Temple program.
"Al Golden is doing a great job there."
"Being in the MAC has done wonders for Temple."
"Al's building a nice résumé there."
When I mention that it's only a matter of time before Temple pulls a Central Michigan and beats the highest-profile college football program in its state, I get a whole different reaction.
"Whoa. Let's not get crazy."
"It's never going to happen."
"Temple is never going to beat Penn State."
Never say never. It may not be this year. It may not be next year, but it's not impossible.
There's a stellar defense with six first-team All-MAC players returning, PLUS a Heisman Trophy candidate in the backfield with a quarterback who might be able to find open receivers on the run. (My kingdom for an Adam DiMichele.)
This isn't your father's Temple team, unless your father played for Wayne Hardin. This is a real good team.
Real good might be one way to put it.
Loaded might be another.
Beating Penn State, especially if the Nittany Lions went on to win the Big Ten, would rocket the Owls toward greatness.
Beating Penn State would immediately legitimize Temple football not only in its own town, but in the state and the nation as well, and would be a boost of immeasurable proportions in terms of prestige and gate receipts.
Temple students, faculty, and alumni would be puffing up their chests so much for the next 12 months, you'd think all of them looked like the Incredible Hulk. By my calculations, that's 250,000 living alumni, 33,000 full-time students, and 12,300 full-time employees. Those are a lot of chests—and 90 percent of them live here or damn close to here.
They might have to shut down North Broad Street, like they did when the basketball team won at North Carolina, 82-66, in 1988.
With all due respect to Villanova, none of the above happens with a win over the Wildcats.
I know a lot of Temple fans think it's possible. In fact, I don't know of a single Temple football player who doesn't believe in the delicious thought.
I think it's a good thing that I can't find a single Penn State fan who thinks it's possible.
I hope their football team approaches Sept. 25 the same way.
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