Drive For Five (Wins)

Steve Addazio

It has been four years – since the Owls won two games at the end of 2008 to finish 5-7 – when the games at the end of the season didn't have meaning. With the hoped-for addition of a 12th game falling through this week, Temple (3-6) will almost certainly end their season Nov. 23 against Syracuse after meeting Army on Saturday.

Long-suffering fans of the Temple football team have gone through a lot of seasons when the dream of a bowl appearance was just a memory in November.

But it has been four years – since the Owls won two games at the end of 2008 to finish 5-7 – when the games at the end of the season didn't have meaning.

With the hoped-for addition of a 12th game falling through this week, Temple (3-6) will almost certainly end their season Nov. 23 against Syracuse as the best it can do is 5-6, which would be short of the .500 record necessary for bowl qualification.

The Owls, who travel to Army on Saturday, would have to hope for a scenario where they win their final two games and there are fewer than 70 bowl-eligible teams. Currently, 57 teams have qualified.

Temple was trying to add a game in Hawaii on Dec. 7 since its move to the Big East left it a game short of a full schedule, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

"We're disappointed," Owls coach Steve Addazio said this week. "We had an agreement in principle. There was a great opportunity for our football program-- for their football program -- to play an extra game, to get a couple extra weeks of practice. Temple University did everything it could - we were set and ready to go. I guess they have their own issues out there, so they just weren't able to come through on that.

"The biggest thing was the extra game. That was the biggest thing. It was all about extending our season; it's a great trip, a great opportunity for a young team to keep practicing and playing. The bowl eligibility piece of it, those things are still on the table right now. We play 11 games this year, and we've just got to worry about beating Army and taking the last two games one at a time."

The Owls should welcome this week's trip to West Point as it offers a bit of a reprieve from the quality of competition they've faced in their recent four-game losing streak. In Rutgers, Cincinnati and Louisville, Temple faced three teams which figure to put up double-digit wins.

Army is just 2-8 and has given up 30 points on eight occasions this season, though the Black Knights were competitive in last week's 28-7 loss at Rutgers, a game which was tied at the half. Two weeks ago, Army defeated Air Force, 41-21, so improvement is palpable.

Quarterback Trent Steelman and running back Raymond Maples have combined for almost 2,000 rushing yards in the Black Knights' triple-option attack.

The Owls will be looking to evaluate their quarterbacks as Chris Coyer's struggles have opened the door for Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome to compete for playing time. They'll also be looking at several young players, like freshman wide receiver Romond Deloatch, who caught the first four passes of his career last week.

But even if it might not get them to a bowl game, the Owls will also try to snap their four-game skid and experience winning a game again. To quote former NFL coach Herm Edwards, you play to win the game.

"All our goals are still there, we have to go out execute and make the plays that need to be made," said Granger. "We're playing to win."

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