When Tahir Whitehead, Temple’s senior linebacker, found out the Owls had accepted an invitation to play in the New Mexico Bowl, he was really excited about the opportunity to play in the postseason. Temple (8-4) will face Wyoming (8-4) in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Saturday, December 17 at University Stadium. The kickoff will be at 2 p.m.
A year ago, Temple didn’t get a chance to play in a bowl game. But the Owls were able to make their second bowl appearance in three years. Whitehead, a 6-foot-2, 228-pounder, would like to finish his college career on a winning note.
“Coach (Steve Addazio) said we could be the winningest class in Temple history,” Whitehead said. “We’re striving to hit that goal with the right focus in this bowl game. Obviously, we want to play it like it’s our championship (game) since we missed out this year on it.
“We have to get back to the basics. We have to use the fundamentals that you use throughout the year. We’re practicing our fundamentals, because it’s going to be a fundamental game where the team that possesses the most fundamentals will come out on top.”
Whitehead used the basic skills to put together a great season. He was all over the field. He was one of the Owls best playmakers. Whitehead had 59 total and 40 solo tackles. He also had five sacks and three fumble recoveries. His efforts played a big role in helping Temple conclude the regular season with a three-game winning streak. The Owls defeated Miami (Ohio) (24-21), Army (42-14) and Kent State (34-16) respectively.
“I heard that gave us the opportunity to be in a bowl game this year being as though we finished so strong,” Whitehead said. “We want to come out and win this game and finish the season 9-4, which would be the best record that we’ve had in a while here. So, that’s the goal.”
This is the Owls fourth trip overall to a bowl game. Temple has played in the inaugural Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1935 (against Tulane); the 1979 Garden State Bowl (against California) and the 2009 EagleBank Bowl (against UCLA).
Steve Addazio, Temple’s first-year head coach, will be making his first bowl appearance as the Owls head coach. Addazio feels this is a terrific accomplishment for the Temple football program.
“I think this is great,” Addazio said. “I want to get out there. I think it’s awful cool to kick the bowl season off and play the game on the (December) 17th and let it be the first bowl. People are excited to see the bowl game. It’s on national TV. We’ll get a chance to go out and play in a whole new bowl venue and play a great Wyoming team. I’m really thrilled about that.”