Toledo (9-2) vs Temple (10-3)
When: Tuesday, December 22nd 2015
Where: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Toledo Rockets and Temple Owls both started the season 7-0, but stumbled down the stretch and will meet in this year’s Boca Raton Bowl in Florida. Temple had aspirations of a New Year’s Six bowl game, but they really never recovered from the Halloween night loss to Notre Dame 24-20. They went on to lose two more games including the AAC Championship Game 24-13 to Houston. This will still be a very successful season for the Owls who were 2-10 two years ago and 6-6 last year. Temple can win their school record 11th game with a win over Toledo. Temple head coach Matt Rhule signed a six-year contract extension amid rumors that he could head elsewhere. Wide receiver Robby Anderson was the lone bright spot in the loss to Houston as he racked up season highs of 12 catches for 150 yards and recorded the team’s only touchdown. Junior running back Jahad Thomas has had an outstanding season rushing for 1,257 yards and 17 touchdowns. Quarterback P.J. Walker completed just 56.9% of his passes and threw three interceptions over the last four games. Defense has been the key to the Owls success this season led by Bronko Nagurski Award winner Tyler Matakevich. Temple ranks 16th in the nation in points allowed (19.2) and 17th in yards (329.2). They held Paxton Lynch and the Memphis offense to just 12 points last month and Houston’s high-powered offense to 24 in the AAC title game.
Toledo went 9-2 this season, but losses to Northern Illinois and Western Michigan prevented them from competing in the MAC Championship Game. They are a very balanced team that finished 26th in points scored and 24th in points allowed. Head coach Matt Campbell left the team after the regular season to become the head man at Iowa State. Offensive coordinator Jason Candle, who has been at Toledo for seven years, will take over for at least this game. Running backs Kareem Hunt (894 yards rushing) and Terry Swanson (870) both have a chance to reach 1,000 rushing yards on the season with a big performance in today’s game. Quarterback Phillip Ely completed just 54.7% of his passes this season, but managed to throw for 2,680 yards and 21 touchdowns. Over his last three games he has five TDs and just one interception. The Rockets are seeking their first 10-win season since 2001. Toledo should be able to stop the run-heavy Owls as they surrendered just 118.2 yards on the ground this season ranking 13th in all of FBS. They were 106th against the pass, but faced primarily pass-happy offenses in the Mid-American Conference.
I think Temple have success mixing in the running and passing. Their defense is much better than Toledo’s and should be able to slow them down. The Owls are excited for this game despite the lackluster finish to the season.
Pick: Temple -2