Hurricane Irma had canceled, postponed, or relocated games for all the college football teams in the state in Florida, except for Florida Atlantic. The Owls traveled to Madison the day prior to the game and two days prior to the storm making landfall. The team felt more comfortable doing so since the University of Wisconsin offered to house and take care of the team as the storm passed through. Needless to say, a football game was not the main concern for Florida Atlantic.
This is not the same Temple that I watched lose 65-0 in Madison ten years ago. This program has progressed from whispers surrounding the termination of the football program to last week’s first defeat of rival Penn State since 1941. Suddenly, Cincinnati had to be on high alert.
The last time we visited Northwestern, they were struggling to finish off Penn State and lost a tough game at home. Three weeks later, the Wildcats have put together two straight wins including last week’s stunning upset at #10 Nebraska. Funny thing- It always seems like every year, Northwestern loses to someone they have no business losing to (this year, Army) and defeating a team they have no business beating (this year, Nebraska). Now, Rice comes in having to confront these confident Cats.
Compared to the surroundings of their hated rival, Houston, the campus of Rice is like a little slice of “Oz,” and Owl fans know it. It’s a twelve minute drive from UH to Rice and the scenery changes from boarded up houses to old southern style oak tree lined streets.
Rice is an outstanding academic institution that tends to seem out of focus when it comes to their football program. Despite some recent bowl success, the Owls appeared doomed to roost among the average in Conference USA. Further evidence of this came on this night when Baylor came to town. Of the mere 23,000 fans that showed up, around half displayed green and yellow in support of their Bears. Rice fans were not very vocal. However, their team did not provide them with much to exercise their vocal cords. In fact, the only thing that appeared to stop the Baylor offense was a lightning delay early in the second quarter.
Temple is worse than a doormat. They are the dirt kicked off onto it. Need a confidence builder? Invite Temple to your stadium. Guaranteed to make your offense sharper and your defense tighter. Wisconsin’s offense already lathered up the week before with a shootout victory over Bowling Green. It wouldn’t be long before the 80,000 plus compacted into Camp Randall knew to relax and kick back. Quarterback John Stocco and tailback Brian Calhoun were relieved of their duties in the first half. Wisconsin hunted the Owls all afternoon and knocked out a 51-0 halftime lead causing everyone to wonder if this was Temple University or Temple High School.