Wednesday Night Bites: Birds with grudges
Temple @ Ohio, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Is it safe to keep calling Temple one of the nation's best three-loss teams after seeing what that did to Toledo last night? Let's find out! The Owls have aspirations of AQ conference membership, and have put on a rollicking good show this season, right up until last week. There's no shame in dropping a game to a team with vastly superior resources like Penn State, and getting clocked by Toledo is a pretty common occurrence this season. But before their Week 9 bye, the Owls sustained a 13-10 loss to Bowling Green, leading to some very familiar-sounding cries against Steve Addazio's playcalling.
Rockstar tailback Bernard Pierce has been playing hurt -- no stranger to hampering injuries, he has been stifled by a recurring hamstring problem in recent weeks -- and he's not getting a lot of help against defenses that now know exactly who he is and that he needs multiple bodies placed in his path. His No. 2, Matt Brown, rushed 22 times for 119 yards against the Falcons, but air support was not forthcoming. Chester Stewart completed seven of 13 passing attempts, and was sacked four times.
Compounding the stakes, this marks the third consecutive November in which the Owls have faced Ohio with conference title hopes on the line and an injured or absent Pierce to compensate for. The two previous contests have gone the Bobcats' way, but Ohio has taken some leveling hits of its own in October, with multiple injuries to the defensive front starters. What's the 2011 twist? Now Temple has a defense, ho-ho-ho, allowing just 263 yards and 10 points in a given game. That makes Temple's D the most talented unit the Bobcats have faced this season by a significant margin. Could it be that the most crucial plot thread of Wednesday night MACtion won't involve Pierce at all this year?