What was the bigger story Saturday afternoon? Temple picking up its first Big East win since it was kicked out of the league in 2004, or USF and its confounding implosion?
Depends on your perspective, of course. First, let's start with Temple, a team that showed more passion, heart and a will to win throughout its 37-28 victory. The Owls physically dominated what was supposed to be one of the best defensive lines in the Big East, allowing Montel Harris to post his best day in a Temple uniform.
Harris, finally healthy after being slowed with a sore hamstring all season, had 133 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Temple (2-2, 1-0) ran for 216 total yards. Chris Coyer got the pass game going, too, going 16-of-20 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He added 54 yards on the ground.
Special teams came up big at the end, too. Marcus Green gets a game ball for his blocked field goal to help the Owls win. USF, attempting another comeback with less than two minutes to go, threw incomplete on a fourth-and-short. But Nate D. Smith was called for roughing the passer, giving the Bulls new life. They marched into field goal range, and Maikon Bonani lined up for the potential game-winning 45-yard field goal attempt. But Green burst through with the block, and Harris scored from 35 yards out one play later to seal the win.
The only downside to the victory: The Owls may have suffered a potentially devastating injury to running back Matt Brown, whose leg bent awkwardly when getting tackled in the fourth quarter. Brown immediately clutched his knee and did not return to the game. He was having a great day, too, with 137 all-purpose yards.
Now to USF. What has to be particularly frustrating for Bulls fans is the same old storyline keeps repeating itself. Simply put, the Bulls cannot get themselves motivated for these Big East games. They play extremely well in their marquee nonconference matchups. They hung with No. 3 Florida State for most of last week's game.
But against teams that are not as heralded, there is a lack of energy and motivation, and a clear blase attitude.
That played out once again in Philadelphia. For the third time this season, USF had to fight and claw its way back against an opponent it should have beaten. USF has more talent and is much more experienced than Temple, considering the amount of starting seniors on this team. The Bulls were lucky to complete that comeback against Nevada. But it failed against Ball State, and it failed against Temple.
The Bulls (2-4, 0-2) have now lost four straight games and it appears as if they are going to have a tough time winning four of their final six games to make a bowl game. Now questions are being asked about whether coach Skip Holtz deserves to be on the hot seat. With the loss, he is now 15-16 in his third season at USF.
Holtz just received a contract extension, so he has that going for him. But no doubt Holtz is going to have a lot of explaining to do. When you are USF, you simply should not lose games to teams like Ball State and Temple.