2016 Military Bowl Preview
In the ninth edition of the Military Bowl, the AAC Champion Temple Owls will face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons out of the ACC.
This is the third year that the Military Bowl will feature an ACC opponent against an AAC opponent. It is also the first appearance in the Military Bowl by either team since 2009. when Temple lost to UCLA 30-21. Wake Forest won the inaugural Military Bowl in 2008 with a 29-19 win over Navy. The last time these two teams faced was in 1930 when Temple won in a 36-0 shutout.
When: Tuesday, December 27th; 3:30 PM ET
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium; Annapolis, MD
The Owls finished the season on a seven-game winning streak after starting the season off 1-2. Despite losing, Temple even went into Beaver Stadium and kept it competitive with the Penn State Nittany Lions who will be Rose Bowl participants this season. Temple’s game plan during their current winning streak is strong defense will lead to strong offense. In the past seven games, Temple has allowed over 20 points twice and has scored more than 30 in five of the seven contests. This style of play led the Owls to a dominating AAC Championship win over Navy.
After starting the season with ten interceptions in seven games, senior quarterback Phillip Walker has been efficient. During the seven-game win streak, Walker has completed more than 54 percent of passes in all but one game, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11:3. His favorite target is sophomore Ventell Bryant who has caught 33 of his 43 receptions on the season during the win streak.
The Temple defense should also not be overlooked. They have allowed the seventh least amount of points in 2016, averaging only 17.2 per game. This puts Temple among the elite in the FBS, including all four playoff teams, and several other teams who were contending for playoff spots. Senior Haason Reddick led the Owls this season with 21.5 tackles for losses, 9.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. All around, Temple is a very dangerous team.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest was one of the more inconsistent teams in the country this season. The Demon Deacons started the season 4-0, with close wins against Tulane and Indiana, but ended the season 6-6. Once conference play started, Wake Forest lost all momentum from the beginning of the season and finished 3-5 in conference play. Wake Forest did show signs of life though, playing competitively with Florida State. This game looks lopsided, matching a 10-3 conference champion against a 6-6 team currently on a three game losing streak, and may end up being so if Wake Forest doesn’t adjust quickly.
Wake Forest’s offense is led by primarily by junior quarterback John Wolford. The Demon Deacons utilize him in their three-way rushing committee as well, including Matt Colburn and Cade Carney. Wolford does not exactly excel in either area, averaging less than six yards per passing attempt and 4.3 per rushing attempt. He also has only thrown for seven touchdowns all season, despite starting all but one game. Wake Forest’s offense will obviously not be able to keep up with Temple’s by itself, and will need their defense to step up if they want any chance of winning.
The Demon Deacons will need to rely on their edge rushers to put pressure on Walker if they want to keep it competitive. Senior Marquel Lee and junior Duke Ejiofor combined for 142 tackles this season, 17.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles. Wake Forest also has held teams in terms of scoring, ranking 21st in the FBS allowing only 21.8 points per game. They also are in the Top 40 in terms of Total Yardage Against in the FBS. It may be a difficult task at hand, but Wake Forest does have a chance at keeping this game if their defense shows up.
This bowl game looks almost like a David vs Goliath match-up. One team won arguably the strongest Group of Five division and may be the hottest G5 team not named Western Michigan with a seven-game winning streak. On the other hand, we have a 6-6 team who finished the season 1-5 and does not really have a strong offense. Wake Forest’s only hope to win this game is to limit the Temple offense long enough for their own offense to break through and sneak away with a win. Early spreads of the game have Temple favored by roughly 12 points.
Temple 31 Wake Forest 10