It's a question that had to be asked. And Temple coach Steve Addazio was the one asking it.
After his team blew a 10-0 halftime lead, Addazio balked at the idea that Temple's 35-10 loss to No. 19 Rutgers was its worst in the last four seasons.
It was only "one of the worst third quarters I've seen in a long time," he said.
Rutgers put up 21 points in the third and added 14 more in the fourth, scoring 35 unanswered points in the second half to advance to a perfect 4-0 in the Big East and 7-0 overall. Temple, meanwhile, dropped back to 2-1 in conference play and 3-3 overall.
The loss may not have been Temple's worst in terms of on-field performance over the course of 60 minutes, but, on the scoreboard, the 25-point deficit was Temple's largest margin of defeat since a 31-6 loss to Penn State on Sept. 19, 2009.
This coming after the Owls found themselves up two scores at the break. They looked like a team that could very well knock off a ranked program, and they should have been ahead by even more (Chris Coyer fumbled on a fourth-down attempt in Rutgers territory on Temple's first drive of the game and kicker Brandon McManus missed a 48-yard field goal later in the half). Then again…
"The way we played in the third quarter, I'm not sure [those points] would have mattered," Addazio said, letting his frustration be known.
How wide was the margin in the second half?
• Rutgers scored 35 points in a half for the first time since 2008, when they hung 49 on Louisville.
• Rutgers outgained Temple 271-49. In all, Temple had just 191 yards of offense. It's the first time Rutgers has held an opponent to fewer than 200 yards since 2009, when they gave up just 159 to USF.
• Temple ran for minus-10 yards in the fourth quarter, and had 38 total rushing yards in the half.
• Coyer attempted just two passes and completed one for four yards, while Rutgers' Gary Nova went 12 of 15 for 186 and four touchdowns.
So what did Rutgers do differently after the break?
"Not a damn thing," Addazio clarified.
And that's the part that has some still asking: "What happened?" To a man, nearly every Owl asked after the game responded that Temple just came out "flat" in the second half. And none of them could explain why. Addazio even said that he thought his team ran out of gas.
The first half aside, the game played out on the field much as it appeared on paper. Perhaps that's the best explanation -- the pregame stats answer the "What happened?" question pretty well:
• The Scarlet Knights came into Saturday's game allowing the second-fewest rushing yards in the country (68). Temple ran for 74 yards in the first quarter, but managed only 119 total in the game for an average of 2.8 per carry.
• Temple entered with the fourth-worst passing attack in the country. Coyer completed just 7 of 14 attempts Saturday for 65 yards, before having his day ended early in the fourth quarter. That, coupled with the turnovers, only exacerbated an already difficult matchup for a one-dimensional offense that had problems running the ball over the final three quarters.
• On defense, the Temple secondary has struggled all year and had to play Rutgers without starting senior safety Vaughn Carraway, who was suspended following flagrant foul during last week's game at UConn. It's tough to say whether Carraway would have made a substantial difference. It's only to say that the personnel group that has had its issues and, against three Rutgers receivers who are all 6-foot-3 or taller, continued to have them.
• Almost to the number, Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison, who was averaging 112.5 rushing yards per game, went for 114.
• As for what happened in the third quarter? Through six games, Rutgers had outscored opponents 48-3 in the third. That margin is now 69-3.
Temple showed meaningful potential in playing as well as it did in the first quarter, but after a 2-0 in-conference start against two flawed teams, the Owls ran into a better opponent that exposed some of their own shortcomings.
Rutgers just happened to do it quickly and decisively over an uncomfortable 30 minutes of football.