Entering the 72nd annual Cotton Bowl Classic as a mere afterthought to more high profile players Chase Daniel and Darren McFadden, Temple wasn't even the best running back on the field. In fact, he wasn't even close.
With No. 25 Arkansas featuring both McFadden and Felix Jones, Temple was a distant third in the tailback race at best. But now, after the greatest rushing performance in Cotton Bowl history, things may change.
Facing a Razorbacks defense determined to slow down No. 6 Missouri's spread offense passing attack — led by Heisman Trophy finalist Daniel — the stage was set for Temple to run wild. And run wild he did.
On 24 carries, Temple made Arkansas' defense look almost nonexistent, racking up a bowl record 281 yards while also scoring a bowl record four touchdowns in the Tigers' 38-7 blowout victory.
"Like coach (Gary Pinkel) said, Arkansas came in with a great plan to slow down our wide receivers and our passing game," Temple said. "And I was just doing my job."
In doing his job, that's where Dicky Maegle comes into the story. All the way back in the 1954 Cotton Bowl, Maegle rushed for 265 yards for Rice against Alabama, setting a bowl rushing record that would stand for 54 years.
That is until Temple came along.
"I had never heard of (Temple), but I was familiar with Missouri based on the play of their quarterback" said Maegle, who watched Tuesday's Cotton Bowl. "Honestly, I thought if anyone had a chance of breaking the record, I would have thought it would have been one of the Arkansas running backs."
So did everyone else, probably. But with the way the Tigers (12-2) performed on offense — taking everything Arkansas' defense was given them — this day was all about Temple.
"He obviously did an outstanding job," said Daniel, who threw for a season-low 136 yards. "Everybody was talking about Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis and those guys are great. But I wouldn't trade my guy Tony for anyone."
Of course, Arkansas wouldn't trade its guys either. But the Razorbacks (8-5) would more than likely trade in their defensive effort against Temple.
"He was running on air, guys," Arkansas interim head coach Reggie Herring said. "That guy's running on air.
"They blocked us, we didn't get all the blocks. It was a bad day defensively. We never played the run that poorly. We're trying to give credit to Missouri. We give all the credit to them. Temple is a great back. They ran for 300 and something yards, but regardless of who we're playing today I think the way we didn't pursue the football and get all the blocks, I mean half his runs were on air."
On air, on the ground, down the sidelines, it really didn't matter. A crowd of 73,114 came to the Cotton Bowl expecting a marvelous tailback to have a magnificent day. And they weren't disappointed.
The only surprise, though, came when a back named Temple — not McFadden — put his name in the Cotton Bowl record book alongside a man named Maegle.
"Man, it's a great feeling," Temple said. "But I'm just happy that our team won, that we got the opportunity to do that.
"I mean honestly, it really comes down to Chase and my wide receivers and my tight ends. They've been setting it up all year for this."
Temple Rushes Into Record Book
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…