Military Bowl Preview: Temple vs Wake Forest
The Temple Owls and Wake Forest Demon Deacons have each had up and down seasons. The Demon Deacons had a roller coaster of a season, finishing 6-6 including a big win at Virginia to clinch bowl eligibility but have lost 3 in a row to Louisville, Clemson, and Boston College. The Owls are rolling, at least on the field. They’ve won 7 in a row including the American Conference Championship over Navy and over a tough South Florida team. Off the field there has been twists and turns. Days after the victory over Navy, former Head Coach Matt Rhule took the job as the head coach at Baylor. The Owls hired former Florida DC Geoff Collins as head coach but assistant Ed Foley will coach the team on Tuesday.
Wake Forest has had controversy off the field as well with a new Wake Scandal. The scandal is from Wake Forest announcer Tommy Elrod who for over the past 2 or 3 seasons has leaked game plan information to opposing teams including ACC foes. Elrod has since been fired and many people he’s worked with from other teams have been let go by the school or dealt with fines. This could be a messy situation heading into the bowl game.
Temple has moved on from Matt Rhule as head coach and the great class of 2017 is now focused on winning in Annapolis again as they did in the Conference Championship vs. Navy. This could very well be the last game for QB-RB duo Philip Walker and Jahad Thomas. Both played together in High School as well in Elizabeth, NJ and have started the last 3 years for the Owls.
How Wake Forest can win: With everything that has happened to this program in the last 6 weeks this will be a tough game to win but this could be motivation to the players. Temple’s Hassan Riddick leads a strong run defense which will pose a major threat to Wake Forest’s weak ground game, so they’ll have to win behind QB John Wolford in the air. It will be even tougher to stop the Owls power running combo of Thomas and Armstead behind the Owls strong O-Line and FB Nick Sharga. They need to match Temple’s physicality to win.
How Temple can win: On paper this looks like a very easy win. The Owls just won in Annapolis last month and are not in the midst of a major scandal. This is still a Power 5 football team and you never know which Temple team can show up. They could be the Week 1 Temple Owls who overlook but then get stomped by Army or could be the team who plays gritty North Philadelphia football. If the Owls can run the ball then they will win, plain and simple.
The Owls enter 12 point favorites in a game just 2 hours from their campus facing a struggling school who somehow reached their first bowl game in 5 years. Even as a Temple fan this is a pretty easy choice and I’m taking the Owls.
Wake Forest 13