Check out a preview of the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
The 2016 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman will feature the #24 ranked Temple Owls (10-3, AAC) against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6, ACC). The game will take place on Tuesday, December 27th at 3:30 pm and will be broadcasted on ESPN. This is the third straight bowl appearance for the AAC Champion Owls and the first for Wake since 2011.
Storylines Heading Into the Game
Great Season for Wake - This is just Wake’s 11th appearance in a bowl game. After winning just three games each of the past two years, coach Dave Clawson improved his team to 6-6 this season with a solid defensive unit that ranks 23rd in the country in FPI efficiency. If the Deacons pull off a victory here, it’ll be their first winning season since 2008.
Matt Rhule’s acceptance of the head coaching position at Baylor - Rhule saw success at Temple, leading them to two straight division titles and a conference title this season after going 2-10 in his first year. He had also led his team to increased win totals each year since he joined them in 2013. This is the first time in Temple’s history that they have earned back-to-back 10-win seasons. But after accepting the position with Baylor, Rhule will not be on the sidelines for this game, replaced by interim head coach Ed Foley. Rhule will be looking to turn around a Baylor program that was a strong national competitor before the recent scandals.
Chance at Temple school record - A win in this game would give Temple a school record for single season wins with 11. Before 2015, their last 10-win season came all the way back in 1979. A win here would mean a lot for a Temple program that has become a leading G5 competitor over the last couple of years after being a non-factor for much of their history.
21.8 - Points per game allowed by Wake Forest. Nearly all of the Deacon’s success can be attributed to their strong defense. They even held Louisville to just three first half points in their late season matchup. While they do give up about 370 yards per game, Wake has had success holding opponents to field goals.
918 - Both of Temple’s top running backs, Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead, have gained 918 yards this season, but they’ve done so in different ways. Thomas has carried most of the load with 200 carries and 4.6 yards per carry, while Armstead has been the home-run threat with only 149 carries but 6.2 yards per carry. Combined, they have scored 27 rushing touchdowns.
Military Bowl Preview: Temple-Wake Forest » Featuring Phillip Walker and Jahad Thomas— Temple Football (@Temple_FB) December 20, 2016
25 - Turnovers gained by Wake Forest. A big piece to Wake’s strong defense has been their ability to take the ball away. The unit has forced 14 fumbles and snagged 11 interceptions. Even with their paltry offense, Wake has been able to maintain a turnover margin of +8 for the season.
Jahad Thomas, RB, Temple - Offensively, Temple relies heavily on running back Jahad Thomas. Though he and Armstead have produced similar rushing outputs, Thomas plays a much larger role in the gameplan. With 200 total carries (51 more than Armstead), Thomas accounts for 37% of the team’s carries and 22% of their total offensive plays. He has also made an impact in the passing game, catching a team-high six touchdowns. If Temple wants to have offensive success against Wake, they need to continue to lean on Thomas for steady production. Quarterback Phillip Walker isn’t exactly a showstopper, meaning Thomas needs to carry the load and provide some consistency to the offense.
John Wolford, QB, Wake Forest - Wolford is legitimately the worst starting quarterback in the ACC. He has thrown for just 1,591 yards, and has seven touchdowns to nine interceptions. Still, with a run game that leaves much to be desired (147.5 yards per game), Wake will need Wolford to have a good game to have any success against a Temple defense that is strong in their own right. With an especially good pass defense on Temple’s side, Wake’s offensive success will rest heavily on whether or not Wolford can muster a solid game. It may come down to whether or not Wolford can lead the offense down the field late in the game.
Why Wake Forest Wins
Wake Forest will win on the strength of their defense. Simply put, Temple has not faced a defense as good as Wake’s. Wake, on the other hand, has faced plenty of strong offenses like Florida State, Louisville, and Clemson. They will surely be able to play to their strength of takeaways as Temple is ranked 44th in the country in turnovers lost. In the end, their Power 5 schedule has prepared them more for this game.
Why Temple Wins
While their offense isn’t stellar, it is at least more consistent than Wake’s. Jahad Thomas is an impressive back, and Phillip Walker is far more refined than Wolford. Offensive consistency is key when playing against a good defense like Wake, and Thomas and Walker can provide that. On the other side of the ball, Wake’s offense won’t be able to keep up. Temple should be able to get an early lead and keep it against a very weak Deacon offense.
Overall, I think Temple’s offensive advantage is too great for Wake to overcome. Temple will not have to score much against their defense to overcome a Wake offense that ranks 125th in yards per game. Temple’s offense will be held, but Wake’s will be held to even less.
Temple Wins 27 - 17
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