Temple coach Steve Addazio said he wanted to see his team come out and punch No. 12 Louisville in the mouth Saturday.
The Owls did just that when Matt Brown delivered the first blow on a 93-yard kickoff return on the game's first play. They kept the game tied at 14 heading into the second quarter and stood toe-to-toe with one of the nation's better teams.
But in those last three quarters, Temple looked like an overwhelmed challenger in an undercard fight, with Louisville, ranked 10th in the BCS standings, landing most of the blows the rest of the way.
When the final bell sounded, Cardinals sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had 324 yards passing and a career-high five touchdown passes, and Louisville gashed Temple's defense for 508 total yards en route to a 45-17 rout at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville improved to 9-0 for the first time in its history, while Temple dropped to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big East. To become bowl-eligible for the fourth time in as many seasons, the Owls will have to win their remaining three games against Cincinnati, Army and Syracuse.
A potential 12th game against Hawaii on Dec. 7 at Aloha Stadium is still very much a possibility for Temple, but nothing had been confirmed on that front as of Saturday afternoon.
Louisville overcame a listless start by taking advantage of a bad snap by true freshman center Kyle Friend and two fumbles by Temple quarterback Chris Coyer and converting them into 17 points. Fifth-year senior running back Montel Harris had 115 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome the Owls' woeful defense and poor ball security.
The bad snap by Friend, who was playing in place of injured starter Sean Boyle, led to a John Wallace 36-yard field goal that gave Louisville a 17-14 lead just five seconds into the second quarter. Coyer and Harris then led the Owls on an 8-play, 58-yard drive that culminated in a 34-yard field goal by Brandon McManus and tied the game at 17-17 a little more than three minutes later.
But from there, Louisville scored 28 unanswered points to bring on the rout. The go-ahead touchdown came on a three-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Wright with 8:15 left in the second quarter, and Bridgewater followed with three more touchdown passes. Bridgewater connected twice with Andrell Smith in the second and third quarters on scoring tosses of 14 and nine yards, respectively, and with DeVante Parker on a 25-yard throw at the 6:54 mark of the third quarter.
Coyer, who completed just 2 of his 8 passes for 20 yards and had two of them dropped, was benched in favor of second-stringer Juice Granger after his second fumble. Granger completed 3 of his 7 passes for 21 yards and managed just 14 yards on six carries. Even third-stringer Kevin Newsome, a former Penn State signal caller who transferred to Temple in August from Virginia's Tidewater Community College, saw some time, too. He reeled off a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter but did not get the chance to throw.
Addazio told reporters after the game that Coyer will keep his starting job when Temple plays Cincinnati at home next Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Freshman outside linebacker Tyler Matakevich once again led the Owls' defense in tackles, this time with 10 stops. Fellow freshman linebacker Nate Smith added nine tackles and came up with two sacks on a pair of blitzes.
OwlScoop.com editor John Di Carlo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @OwlScoop_com or @jdicarlo.
Photos courtesy of US Presswire.