For the first time ever the #23 Temple Owls (10-3, 7-1 AAC East, AAC Champions), head to their second bowl game in a row. This one though will be on familiar turf as they return to the site of their last game on 12/03, a win against the landlords, Navy Midshipmen, 34-10, to take the AAC championship. They will face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6, 3-5, 5th Place ACC Atlantic) who are coming off a season ending loss at home on 11/26 against Boston College, 14-17, extending their losing streak to three games.
Temple/Wake Forest/Military Bowl History:
Temple and Wake Forest have only met once, a 36-0 Owls’ victory on Nov. 1, 1930. Each team though played in one of this DC Region’s bowl games the first two seasons of the event. In 2008, the inaugural edition, called the Congressional Bowl and played at RFK Stadium, Wake Forest beat Navy, 29-19. In 2009, now branded as the Eagle Bank Bowl, Temple lost to UCLA, 30-21. The bowl got it’s current moniker in 2010 and moved to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis in 2013. Temple is 2-3, and Wake Forest is 6-4 all-time in bowl games.
The Owls are riding a seven game win streak, tied for sixth longest in the country and one more win would give them 11 on the season, a school record.
Temple will be led by interim Coach Ed Foley in his ninth year at Temple as an assistant head coach, ST coordinator and TE coach. He does have one season of head coaching experience at Fordham for the 2004-05 season. Also coaching in the game will be three coaches who will join former Temple head coach Matt Rule at Baylor, DB coach Francis Brown LB coach Mike Siravo and DC Phil Snow. Said Snow, whose players made a big twitter push to name him the future head coach, via the #LetItSnow campaign,
“The Players asked me to coach and I felt I had an obligation.”
This will be a bitter sweet game for much of the team as 26 players have already earned their college degrees, the most of any team playing in a bowl game, and for many of them it will be their last game as a Temple Owl. SR. QB Phillip Walker, also playing with his Elizabeth, NJ HS teammate Jahad Thomas possibly for the final time, noted that though it may be an emotional game come the finish,
“It is very special just to put on the Cherry and White one final time. I will embrace it and I am going out there to have fun.”
Wake Forest Notes:
The Demon Deacons are led by third year head coach Dave Clawson. This season’s 6-6 record, is the highest win total since 2011. They started off the year hot at 4-0, but came back to earth in the tough ACC as three out of their six losses came on the road against #14 Florida State, #5 Louisville, and #5 Clemson.
Wake Forest Offense:
Wake QB JR John Wolford (156-280 passing, for 1,591 yards, 7 TDs, 9 INT, 523 yards rushing, 4.3 avg., 6 TDs), taking over in the 3rd game of the season, was the first Demon Deacon to throw for 1,500 yards and rush for 500 in a season. One of his favorite targets is red-shirt JR. TE Cam Serigne, (27 receptions, 358 yards, 2 TDs), who has a a school TE career record 11 TD catches. Two of his WRs, SO Tabari Hines (35 receptions, 401 yards, 2 TDs) and red-shirt SO Cortez Lewis (32 receptions, 415 yards, 1 TD) have very similar stats. Their leading rusher is SO Matt Colburn (566 yards rushing, 4.1 avg., 1 TD), just a shade under the QB’s totals. They tend to have a balanced offense with 1,770 net rushing, and 1,911 net passing yards on the season.
Wake F0rest Defense:
Teams like to throw on Wake as they have given up 2,570 net passing yards, but are better against the run with 1,871 net yds in the ground. Their leading tackler is SR. LB Marquel Lee (98 tackles, 19 TFL, 7.5 sacks), followed closely by red-shirt FR SS Jessie Bates III, (93 tackles, 5 INT).
Wake F0rest Special Teams:
The Demon Deacons also feature 1st team All-ACC red-shirt JR PK Mike Weaver (19-24 FG, 24-24 PATS), whose 31 touchbacks are two short of a school single season record
Bowl games in general are some of the hardest to pick because it is always difficult to tell how teams will react to the long layoff and the spotlight of a bowl appearance, however minor it may be. The Owls are just under a 2 TD favorite, and I see little reason, save overconfidence and the coaching changes, why this should not hold to form. This Temple team is about as veteran a team as one can get in college football, and many have experienced the bowl environment last season. Walker has also had time to heal his lame ankle played on in the AAC Championship so that will also tilt this game in Temple’s favor. Temple 28 – 10
Television: ESPN: PBP Jason Benetti; Analyst Kelly Stouffer; Sidelines Paul Carcaterra
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic: PBP Harry Donahue; Analyst Paul Palmer; Sidelines Harry Mayes
National Radio: ESPN Radio PBPJohn Brickley
Yours truly will be there to cover the game. Thanks to the Military Bowl and PattisonAve.Com for the opportunity.