While we give major credit to the Houston Cougars, the biggest surprise in college football might have been the Temple Owls. Over the last couple of years, one of, if not the most improved team in college football has been Temple. They were charging right along, a 7-0 record and a nationally recognized team heading into their showdown with Notre Dame. A win would have catapulted them into discussion for the college football playoff, believe it or not.
At 8-0 they would have been one of the new undefeated teams left, but they couldn’t overcome the Fighting Irish. They nearly did it, but they came up 4 points shy in a 24-20 loss. Temple gets big kudos for going 7-0 and hanging with a top-flight program. It was, however, the end of their improbable run at the playoff.
Temple went on to beat SMU 60-40 the following week, but they ultimately fell to USF the next week and lost to Houston in the conference championship to send them out of contention for a quality bowl game. They landed in the Boca Rotan Bowl. Motivation factor on a scale from 0-10? Probably a 1, which ended up showing on the field, where they lost to Toledo by a score of 32-17. I’m not going to knock them for that game considering they were already checked out mentally after the Houston game.
All of the teams Temple lost to were pretty good teams. Set aside USF, a game they probably should have won, but Notre Dame and Houston are two very good teams that they hung around with to the end. A play here or there against Notre Dame and we’d be talking about their biggest win in school history.
While the Notre Dame and Houston losses were bitter disappointments, after the dust settles, Temple had to look back at their year and realize what kind of amazing season they had. The Owls went 6-6 the year prior, and 2-10 the year before that. Talk about a significant improvement, which they are hoping translates to more success in 2016. Standing in their way to open the season are the Army West Point Black Knights.
Army is coming off a season they want to forget. They have been playing second fiddle to their military counterparts, Navy, for countless years now. Last season they were lit up again for a 2-10 season. Find out what I think about this game below, and get our pick on the second day of the 2016 college football season.
Army West Point Black Knights vs. Temple Owls NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Temple -15(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Army vs. Temple Pick:
Army can’t get much worse from last season. The only two wins they had on the season were not good wins any way you shape it. Beating Eastern Michigan and Bucknell isn’t something to be proud of exactly. Bucknell plays in the Patriot League, and Eastern Michigan has been a bottom 5 team for the last ten years. While the triple-option offense can cause havoc for some defenses, this triple-option at Army wasn’t fooling anybody.
They put up 58 points on Eastern Michigan, for their only impressive offensive showing of the year. Their best game might have come against a good Navy team, a 21-17 loss. Army can run the football. Well, that is all they can essentially do. Navy, with Keenan Reynolds, could actually pull it back in the pocket and go deep. The Black Knights couldn’t get the passing game against the air, let alone a defense.
Army will enter with some holes to fill, even after going 2-0 last season. The main issues for Army will be along the offensive line. Three seniors graduated and another left the team. Army’s offense is largely based off offensive line play. For a team that runs the ball 95% of the time that goes without saying. Army went through multiple quarterbacks in 2015 and could never really figure it out. A triple-option offense is not easy to just jump in and run it effectively.
Temple get the focal-point of their offense back, quarterback P.J. Walker. Senior Jahad Thomas will be returning as well, fresh off 1,262 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns in 2015. The Owls also have a couple of other capable running backs to pace the ground game. There shouldn’t be any issues in that regard. On the defensive side of the ball, they have three linebackers who have started in the past, but they do lose All-American Tyler Matakevich. If this weren’t the first game of the season, I don’t think I’d be looking at Temple in this spot.
The Owls have had weeks to prepare for the triple-option, not a week like most teams do. It’s always difficult going against a hurry-up offense, then playing a triple-option. Temple won’t have that problem in their opener. Army should stage a couple of nice drives, and maybe even look adequate in the 1st quarter. However, as the game wears on, Temple is going to shut their offense down and wear the Army defense down. I see a three touchdown win for Temple, which would give them the cover of 15 points.
PICK: TEMPLE -15 (-110)