#24 Temple Owls vs. Toledo Rockets
Tuesday – December 22 – 6:00 pm CT
FAU Stadium – Boca Raton, Florida
In college football, with success comes opportunity. Opportunity such as the one that was recently given to former Toledo head coach Matt Campbell after leading the Rockets to a 9-2 season. Campbell accepted an offer to become the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. Left to lead the Rockets against a formidable foe in the #24 Temple Owls (10-3) is offensive coordinator Jason Candle who was promoted to head coach on Dec. 2.
The Temple Owls were runner-ups in the American Athletic Conference, losing the title game to the Houston Cougars. Owls coach Matt Rhule has familiarity with Candle, he gave serious thought to extending an assistant coaching position to him once before. The two teams enjoyed Top 25 success for a number of weeks during the season, Toledo reached as high as #19 in the AP Poll. Losing two of their two of their last four games, including the Mid Atlantic Conference title game to Western Michigan put a damper on what was otherwise a great season for the Owls.
Temple will bring a balanced attack to the field led by quarterback P.J.Walker. The junior signal caller doesn’t make the spectacular plays but he won’t get his team beat with poor decision making. Jahad Thomas provided a spark all season out the backfield and senior receiver Robby Anderson, along with impressive looking freshman Ventell Bryant to move the chains for the Owls in the vertical game. The defense of the Owls have allowed only 11 touchdowns through the air this season. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the Chuck Bednarik Award winner, leads a stout run defense that allowed only 126.2 a game.
Toledo brings an explosive offense into this game, which will be met with a stingy defense in Temple. Toledo running back Kareem Hunt leads a three headed rushing attack with himself alone averaging 136.3 yards a game in his last four games. Hunt finished the regular season with 894 yards, finishing just ahead of Terry Swanson for the team lead who ended with 870 yards. Quarterback Phillip Ely had a solid senior campaign passing for 2,680 yards with 21 touchdowns. Alonzo Russell is the teams top receiving threat, having caught almost 200 passes and 24 touchdowns over his four year career. Defensively the Rockets are very good in the red zone, allowing just a 34.3% touchdown rate inside the 20 yard line.
Prediction: Temple 27 – Toledo 17