The Temple Owls and the Navy Midshipmen will meet in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday afternoon to kick off a full day of college football. There’s a lot on the line for a lot of teams, including these two. Temple has not won an outright conference championship since 1967 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Navy has never won a conference title because they just joined a conference for the first time last season. Pride, bowl seeding, and a conference title are on the line on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Temple vs. Navy College Football Preview
Date/Time: Saturday December 3, 12:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Navy -3
These two teams did not meet during the regular season, but Temple did have some exposure to the triple-option offense. The Owls lost 28-13 as a two-touchdown favorite against Army in Week 1. That was one of just three losses and the only ATS loss for the Owls this season. Since that game, they are 9-2 straight up and 11-0 against the spread. Temple has won six straight games outright. Navy still has a regular season game left to play against Army next week, but the Midshipmen are 9-2 straight up and 7-3 against the spread this season so far. It’s a little rare to see a service academy 8-3 to the over, but that’s the case this season.
Traditional football fans have to love Temple. They pound the ball on offense and play hard-nosed, physical defense. The Owls rely heavily on the tandem of Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead. Thomas has rushed 181 times for 856 yards and 12 touchdowns. Armstead has 139 carries for 842 yards and 13 touchdowns. Both guys run between the tackles, but Thomas has been the guy to get the tough yards and Armstead has been the guy with the longer runs. Temple has 29 rushing touchdowns this season and 4.5 yards per carry as a team. Phillip Walker’s biggest job is to take care of the football, which is something he has failed at during parts of the season. Walker has thrown for 2,700 yards with an 18/12 TD/INT ratio. The Owls managed 33.4 points per game and 6.2 yards per play during AAC games this season.
It’s the defense of Temple that really stands out. They’ve allowed just 17.8 points per game this season and only 4.6 yards per play. It helps that the defense has only been asked to play 26 minutes per game because the Temple offense line has owned the line of scrimmage. When called upon, however, the Temple defense is definitely up to the challenge. They’ve allowed just 3.6 yards per carry and have only allowed 146 passing yards per game. In conference play, the Owls allowed just 4.4 yards per play and there are a lot of good offensive teams in this league. As mentioned, Temple did have trouble with Army’s triple-option attack, as the Black Knights racked up 329 rushing yards and had the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
Ken Niumatalolo might be doing the best coaching job of his career this season. Keenan Reynolds rewrote the record books for Navy football and then exhausted his eligibility. Tago Smith patiently sat behind Reynolds waiting for his shot and then tore his ACL in the season-opening game against Fordham. Navy is now playing for a conference title, due in large part to Will Worth. Worth took over for Smith and the team never looked back. He’s rushed 258 times for 1,181 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s also completed 61.7 percent of his passes with an 8/3 TD/INT ratio. This is the senior’s first time as a start and this is really his only college action. He’s run for over 100 yards in each of the last seven games. Navy has scored 141 points over the last two games. If there’s a team out there willing to run a triple-option, Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper has to be a consideration as one of the country’s top assistants.
Navy is very fortunate that the offense has been so potent and productive because the defense leaves a lot to be desired. Navy has allowed over 30 points per game and 6.4 yards per play this season. It’s especially concerning because the defense is only asked to play about 27 minutes per game, but bad things happen when they take the field. Opposing teams have completed 65.1 percent of their passes for 325 yards per game. The silver lining is that Temple’s passing attack is subpar, but the Midshipmen have allowed 4.7 yards per carry anyway.
College Football Free Pick: Navy Midshipmen -3
This is not a great matchup for Navy, given that Temple is about the only team in the AAC that can beat them at the point of attack. Temple’s Week 1 struggles with the triple-option loom pretty large in the handicap of this game because Navy’s offense is better and a lot more efficient. This is going to be a slow, methodical game, so the total of 62 is far too high for this matchup. That may be a stronger play, but Kyle’s the totals expert, so I’m here to give out sides in these previews.
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