Temple versus UCLA would have made for an interesting 1995 NCAA West Regional final in basketball — coach John Chaney against coach Jim Harrick and all that. But this is football, and the coaching matchup is Al Golden, who UCLA was interested in, against the man the Bruins hired, Rick Neuheisel. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at some of the other key issues and matchups in Tuesday’s EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C.
Both teams want the label “up-and-coming program.”
UCLA has not been to a Rose Bowl since 1999, an 11-year drought that is the longest in school history. The Bruins were 4-8 last season, but have returned to the mediocrity known throughout much of the Karl Dorrell years, with the promise of better days ahead.
Temple has been to three bowl games in 110 years of football. The Owls have a 14-118 record against Bowl Championship Series schools since 1991. Their 9-3 record this season is their best since going 10-2 in 1979, when they finished by beating a Pacific 10 Conference team (California) in the now-defunct Garden State Bowl, their only bowl victory.
“For us, we’re building a program from scratch,” Temple Coach Al Golden said.
Temple runs the ball . . . and runs the ball . . . and runs the ball.
The Owls rank 23rd nationally in rushing offense at 145 yards per game. Bernard Pierce did the bulk of that work, finishing the regular season with 1,308 yards rushing despite missing the last two games with a shoulder injury.
With Pierce out, the Owls showed their success running was as much about the system as the man. Matt Brown, Pierce’s replacement, had 156 and 172 yards.
UCLA gave up an average of 207 yards rushing in losing their first five conference games.
If Temple can run, it can win.
If not: Temple had only 46 yards rushing in a 31-6 loss to Penn State. That was a long time ago — the second game of the season — but Penn State is also the only other team from a BCS conference that the Owls faced this season.
UCLA’s hopes on offense hinge on quarterback Kevin Prince’s right arm. He suffered a mild shoulder separation a month ago, in the regular season finale against USC, but is set to start.
Prince has demonstrated a deft passing touch, though staying healthy has been a problem. He’s had a fractured jaw, concussion and, most recently, the shoulder injury.
Temple gave up 317 yards passing against Villanova in the season opener and 324 yards against Ohio in the Mid-American Conference title game.
A bowl game in the nation’s capital naturally brings out politicians, but this one hasn’t drawn the D.C. A-list.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty dropped by with a proclamation on media day and Ross Perot will preside over the coin toss.
UCLA is a five-point favorite, and the Bruins are 5-0 when favored this season.