Prediction: Temple to finish 6-5

Temple returns just eight starters from last season's 9-4 team. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

If you take a long look at Temple’s schedule, what's your realistic season-ending record?

Maybe the Owls shock their naysayers and contend for the Big East Conference title. Perhaps, they struggle to win four games.

Returning just eight starters from last season’s 9-4 squad, there’s a thought Temple is doomed this season.

I disagree.

The Owls have a manageable non-conference schedule. On paper, Boston College transfer Montel Harris will be the best running back at Temple since Paul Palmer. (Yes, better than Bernard Pierce!) And the Owls have made huge upgrades to their coaching staff.

Upset alert: South Florida (Oct. 6).

The scheduling gods set the stage for a successful Big East opener and homecoming weekend for the Owls.  With a bye week on Sept. 29, Temple will have two weeks to prepare for the Bulls. South Florida, on the other hand, will sandwich this game between tough matchups against Florida State and Louisville.  One can only assume South Florida will have a letdown game and won’t match Temple’s intensity – at least in the early going. By that time, Temple could build a comfortable lead.

Almost sure bets:  Villanova (Aug. 31), Maryland (Sept. 8) and at Army (Nov. 17).

The Owls will be on cruise control leading up to a key Sept. 22 date with Penn State. They face a Football Championship Subdivision opponent (Villanova) and arguably the Atlantic Coast Conference’s worst team (Maryland) in the first two weeks. Temple's other breather will come at Army in the second to last game. This expected blowout win will enable Temple to heal any bruises heading into an important regular-season finale against Syracuse.

Brutal stretch: Rutgers (Oct. 20), at Pittsburgh (Oct. 27), at Louisville (Nov. 3) and Cincinnati (Nov. 10).

The good news is that two of these games are at home. However, the bad news is that Temple has to face these teams in a row. One victory during this stretch is attainable. Anything more is highly unlikely.

Prediction: The Owls end the regular season with a two-game winning streak to finish 6-5 and become bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season.  

Complete chedule with predicted outcomes:

Aug. 31: Villanova, Win

Sept. 8: Maryland, Win

Sept. 22: at Penn State, Loss

Oct. 6: South Florida, Win

Oct. 13: at Connecticut, Win

Oct. 20: Rutgers, Loss

Oct. 27: at Pittsburgh, Loss

Nov. 3: at Louisville, Loss

Nov. 10: Cincinnati, Loss

Nov. 17: at Army, Win

Nov. 23:  Syracuse, Win