No. 24 Temple Owls (10-3 SU, 12-1-ATS) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS)
College Football Military Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Tuesday December 27th, 2016. 3:30PM (EST) 2016
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Stadium Annapolis, M.D.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEM -14/WF +14
Over/Under Total: 40.5
For the 2nd straight year, the Temple Owls have reached the 10 win mark under Head Coach Matt Rhule. Unlike last year's regime, Temple's 2016 campaign was highlighted by their convincing win over Navy that secured their first American Athletic Conference Championship at the end of the season. As a result, Temple will now get the opportunity to build off their impressive season when they meet the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Military Bowl which will take place at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium when both teams meet on Tuesday, December 27th in front of an ESPN viewing audience.
The Demon Deacons did not have the most impressive year but they did exceed expectations with a 6-6 record which has earned the team their first postseason appearance since 2011. Wake Forest actually had a great start to the season winning 5 of their first 6 games before getting trounced in conference play which caused them to drop 5 of their final 6. It was pretty obvious that offensive issues plagued the team this year especially down the stretch as they were held to just 14 points or less in their final 3 games and also in 5 of their last 6 games. In fact, Wake Forest finished with just 19.3 points on average per game for the season. Only 6 other teams averaged less points in all of college football.
Therefore, Wake Forest has to come up with a better offensive effort in order to win this game and hope for a big game from quarterback John Wolford. Wolford has struggled throwing the football completing just 57% of his passes with 7 scores and 9 picks. However, he has been able to make some plays on the ground in Demon Deacons run first style offense with 523 yards and 6 scores. Considering Wake Forest's struggles throwing the football, the run attack may be their best bet to move the football in this game with Wolford along with tailbacks Matt Colburn and Cade Carney.
The good news for Wake Forest is that they may not need many scores to contend in this game or even stay within the 14 point spread. Both teams have really strong defenses that is expected to yield very few scoring opportunities. In fact, the total for this game is among the lowest for the entire bowl season at just 40.5. The bad news for Wake Forest is the fact their struggling offense will have the pleasure of trying to thwart a very impressive Temple defense. The Owls have the 3rd best overall defense in the FBS that has allowed just 275 yards per game on average. Temple has also allowed just 17.2 points per game which is the 7th best mark in the FBS.
Therefore things should not come easy for Wake Forest as they look for ways to move the football. However, the Demon Deacons do have a defense that has played really well that can possibly keep them in contention. The Demon Deacons have given up just 21 points per game which is among the top 25 teams in the country. The Demon Deacons defense will face a big challenge against a Temple team that has been successful throwing and running the football. The Owls have two talented rushers in Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead that have each rushed for exactly 918 yards while combining for 27 touchdowns. Additionally, quarterback Phillip Walker has been decent with 20 touchdowns tossed and 12 picks. Ultimately though, Temple is built as a running team which happens to be one of Wake Forest's strong suits against the run. Therefore, this matchup should be fun to watch.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Temple has been the best team in the FBS this year against the number with a remarkable 12-1 record ATS. I know the scoring opportunities will be limited but I could see Temple's defense limiting Wake Forest to single digits in terms of scoring. Therefore, I am going to roll with the team that has consistently paid. Take Temple -14
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