Must-win Game

Temple football coach Matt Rhule talked after the embarrassing loss to Fordham about how the Owls played in the following game against Idaho being more important than whether they won or lost. Well, the Owls didn't play well that game for the most part and they lost. In this Saturday's Homecoming game against Army, make no mistake. The only important aspect for the 0-6 Owls is to win.

Temple football coach Matt Rhule talked after the embarrassing loss to Fordham about how the Owls played in the following game against Idaho being more important than whether they won or lost. Well, the Owls didn't play well that game for the most part and they lost.

In this Saturday's Homecoming game against Army, make no mistake. The only important aspect for the 0-6 Owls is to win.

While that might seem obvious, there are games on the schedule difficult to win even in a well-played game – Notre Dame and Louisville, for example. And in those situations in particular – and in all games – there are other aspects to consider.

The development of P.J. Walker the last few weeks has been a common theme. Clearly, the Owls want to see their present and future at the position take the next steps forward.

The kicking game has been a year-long conundrum and seeing Nick Visco or Jim Cooper or anyone with a K next to his name in the program boot a couple field goals through the uprights would be a relief.

It would be good to see continued progress from sophomore defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis and freshman linebacker Sharif Finch.

But Walker could throw three interceptions, Visco could bang field-goal attempts off both uprights and the defense could continue to give up yards in chunks.

Whether the score is 13-10 or 43-40, whether it is pretty or ugly, the Owls need to win this game. Because if they don't it's very possible they will enter the final few weeks of the season trying to avoid a winless season.

The Owls take to the road for two weeks after the Army game. While SMU has just one win – and that against an FCS team – they are seventh in the country in passing yards, which will allow them to attack Temple's weakness in the secondary and it's hard to see a winless Owls' bunch going to Texas and coming away with a win.

Games at Rutgers and home against Central Florida – two teams near the top of the conference standings - will follow and that could send Temple into a very winnable game against Connecticut at 0-10.

Army comes into Saturday's game at 3-4 but wins over Eastern Michigan, Louisiana Tech and Morgan State won't make anybody step up and take notice. A 14-point loss to fifth-ranked Stanford might be more impressive than any of the wins.

Still, this is a Black Knight team the Owls have owned in recent years, particularly last year when Temple went to West Point an underdog with a four-game losing streak and left with a 63-32 win in which Montel Harris scored seven touchdowns.

If they can get a win and salvage a game or two at the end of the season, it would give the Owls a little more hope for the rest of the season as well as looking ahead to 2014.

Coming into the season, this game looked like the start of a second-half push towards a bowl game. With winnable games against Houston, Fordham and Idaho the first month it seemed a win over the Black Knights would get the Owls to 4-3 or 3-4 and keep alive hopes of a Pinstripe Bowl bid.

Now, the Owls just want to put win No. 1 on the board and build some momentum in the second half, when all those other issues – the development of Walker and other young players in particular – will be of utmost importance.

This Saturday, the only thing the Owls need to talk about is a win.

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