Another year, another bowl appearance for the Owls. After appearing in just two bowl games for the first 60 seasons in program history (1930-2008), the Owls have made six bowl appearances in the last 10 years including four straight. That comes despite multiple head coaching changes and Temple will be dealing with another one after head coach Geoff Collins departed to take the Georgia Tech job. Ed Foley will pilot the team as interim coach as the Owls prepare for a matchup with David Cutcliffe’s Duke Blue Devils in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Spread: Temple -4
Despite the coaching change, Vegas still likes the Owls in this one and there are a variety of reasons why. After a rocky start to the season with losses to Villanova, Buffalo and Boston College, the defense rounded into form finishing 24th in S&P+ and allowing opponents 24 points per game. They were particularly good at preventing explosive plays, ranking sixth in Bill Connelly’s IsoPPP metric.
On the offensive side, the team really found its groove once sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo took the reins from Frank Nutile. Russo led the team to wins in five of six games before missing the final game of the season due to injury. His status is up in the air for this one as is running back Ryquell Armstead’s. Armstead carried for over 1,000 yards with 13 touchdowns this season though 10 of those came in just two games (Boston College and Houston). Still, there are weapons on this offense and the team seemed to figure things out late in the season.
They’ll go up against a Duke defense that was solid, if unspectacular this year. The Blue Devils finished 49th in S&P+ while allowing 27 points per game, just be a tick higher than the national average. The status for top tackler Joe Giles-Harris is unknown for this game as he missed the team’s last game against Wake Forest (59-7 L). Overall, the team struggled with generating turnovers, picking off just three passes and recovering eight fumbles. That led to a -5 turnover margin on the season, one of the worst in FBS.
On offense, quarterback Daniel Jones is getting some love from Mel Kiper Jr. ahead of draft season after he completed just under 60 percent of his passes for over 2,200 yards and 17 touchdowns this year. Running back Deion Jackson was effective out of the back field carrying 151 times for 803 yards and seven touchdowns. Jones, like Giles-Harris, is questionable for this game with a nebulous “lower body injury” and if he can’t go, the duties fall to junior Quentin Harris who completed under 50 percent of his pass attempts this season.
The Blue Devils were 5-0 against the spread this season when underdogs while Temple was a more average 5-3 as the favorite. Interim coach Ed Foley lost his only previous game as the head coach (2016 Military Bowl), which is slightly concerning, but we’ll still go with the Owls here. Temple -4, Under 55