Even with nine wins, Golden knows Temple Owls have to keep working

Satisfied?

The Temple football team?

Just because the Owls (9-2, 7-0 Mid-American Conference) are taking a nine-game winning streak to Ohio University (8-3, 6-1) on Friday morning (ESPNU, 11) to see who will win the conference's East Division and play in next week's title game?

"I'm unsatisfied," said coach Al Golden, who inherited a winless team 4 years ago that had just been asked to leave the Big East for a non-BCS affiliate and has taken it from one victory to four, five and now this. "I think that's the way we keep going forward . . .

"Satisfied is the right word. It just doesn't get into our building. We have guys who need to improve right now. A lot of times, that's difficult, with all you guys asking questions about the postseason and the implications of this game.

"They have to [keep doing] the things that got them here."

Win or lose, the Owls are headed to a bowl for the first time in 3 decades. A win would earn them a trip to Detroit on Dec. 4 to play Central Michigan for a ring. To the outside world, given all the historical perspective, it would seem they already are playing with house money.

Except they don't live in the outside world.

"To tell the truth, this season potentially could still be a disaster," senior tight end Steve Maneri said. "There's a lot of poison out there."

How's that for keeping it real?

The Owls will be without freshman Bernard Pierce, who has rushed for 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns on 224 carries. He injured his left shoulder on the first play of Saturday's 47-13 home win over Kent State. But freshman Matt Brown, who is all of 5-5, ran for 156 yards and two scores (including a 71-yarder when the Owls were up 12-10) on 18 attempts.

It's what good teams do.

"Our guys have been feeding off each other," Golden said. "We've become a winning team. Whether or not we'll be an uncommon team or a championship team or all of those things is all before us."

He always has maintained that it's harder, maybe even much harder, to deal with prosperity as opposed to whatever hurdles presented themselves throughout this process.

"When my wife's yelling at me, I don't want to hear it," Golden said. "If she's saying how great I am, I'm all ears. Players are no different.

"I challenged about 18 guys [on Sunday] that I thought were getting a little bit, whether it's hubris or arrogance, whatever, almost unapproachable. All of a sudden that's a challenge. There were some guys the last 2 weeks that didn't get better. That's a concern. Some guys were fighting [us] a little bit. I thought I needed to intervene. I addressed it with the team, and talked to some individuals, about putting your ego away.

"Now is the time to do what you were trained to do, finish the job. We haven't achieved anything. Before every accident, there's a warning. We're just trying to win today. When you can beat human nature, you can be really good. We're not there yet."

But they must at least be in the vicinity. They've beaten one team (Navy, on the road) that has a winning record. They could get two or three more chances in the upcoming 10 days and beyond. So they can make even more statements. Bigger statements, which would mean more prosperity. Despite Golden's caution, it can be a good problem to have.

"When we weren't doing well, we knew we had a lot of talent," senior offensive tackle Devin Tyler said. "The coaches were telling us to buy [in] and trust [them]. Trust, trust, trust. Once we finally trusted, in a way we knew this is what would happen.

"But [back then] it was kind of hard to believe, too."

Yet here they are, trying to take yet another step.

"We didn't want to come here and be the same Temple team it's been for years," Maneri said. "We had a thought in mind, to turn it around. So yes we did expect to be where we are."

Others had said the same thing, under a different set of circumstances. Regardless, this senior class helped make it a reality. That has to count for something, whether the Owls finish with nine wins or a dozen or anything in between.

"We're playing meaningful games in November, and these guys are responsible for it," Golden said. "They hung together, when a lot of their peers either deserted or didn't want to make that commitment. The seniors here didn't grow up wanting to go to Temple, I promise you that.

"We're not honoring the seniors now because we're winning. We're honoring them, and now we're winning. I always said the last thing you're going to see is wins on the field."

And still, it's not all there is. Not yet, anyway.