Steve Addazio took one year to do something his predecessor at Temple, Al Golden, could not accomplish in five seasons. But don't take that as a knock on Golden, who certainly turned this desolate football program around. Addazio led the Temple Owls to their first bowl victory since the 1979 Garden State Bowl, as Temple blew away Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl, 37-15 in the first bowl game of the college football bowl season.
Temple running back Bernard Pierce rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Chris Coyer threw for 169 yards and a one touchdown and added 70 rushing yards for good measure as Temple exploited the weak Wyoming rush defense from start to finish.
The Owls jumped out to a 21-0 lead before Wyoming's Brett Smith connected with Josh Docston with a beautiful touchdown catch to give the Cowboys some life late in the first half, but Coyer responded with a deep pass to receiver Rod Streeter for one more strike before the half to give Temple a 28-7 lead at halftime. The last time Temple played in a bowl game, in the 2009 Military Bowl in Washington D.C., the Owls let a double-digit halftime lead slip away against UCLA. This year's Owls team was determined not to let that happen again and they held on for a solid victory that Temple fans have been waiting 32 years for.
For Addazio, the job of continuing to build on what Golden had laid the groundwork for took another step forward. The goal moving forward will be to continue the momentum and finally knock that MAC Championship, or at least MAC East championship accomplishment off the To-Do List.
The question for Temple for the next few days may be whether or not they will have the services of Pierce in 2012 or not. There has been some speculation that this New Mexico Bowl was his last game in a Temple uniform before he enters his name in to the NFL Draft mix. When healthy, Pierce is a solid running back who can make defenders pay on the outside, but would he benefit from one more solid season in cherry and white? I happen to to think he might, but some experts who pay a little more attention to this NFL Draft stuff might suggest that he would be just as well heading to the NFL Draft now.
One thing is for sure, and I feel I can back this up as a Philadelphia area native, Temple is heading in the right direction with their football program. This program is nowhere close to where they were before Golden took on the unenviable task of leading this football program. College football may never be one of the top sports in Philadelphia (we're a pro-sports town, much to my personal chagrin at times), but if they can continue to improve they will continue to have people in this region talk about them, with or without the Big East (and we won't go there today).
Celebrate Temple Owls! You have waited a long time for this moment, and you deserve to soak it up as much as possible. Hopefully you will not have to wait another 32 years for this feeling.
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