Temple Owls vs Navy Midshipmen
Temple is riding a dominant defensive stretch and 20th-ranked Navy is running roughshod over opposing defenses. This should makes for an intriguing matchup in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference title game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Enter Contest). The Owls have won six straight games. They held their last four opponents to a total of 23 points. Temple will look to rebound after losing to Houston in last year’s AAC championship.
Temple led the AAC in scoring defense (17.8 points) and total defense (273.4 yards, which is third in the country), while Navy ranked second in the conference in scoring (41.7) behind the nation’s second-ranked rushing attack (342 yards). The Midshipmen revolve around quarterback Will Worth, the nation’s leader with 25 rushing touchdowns, while the Owls ride a balanced offense behind senior quarterback Phillip Walker (2,700 yards, 18 touchdown passes). Walker is questionable with a foot issue but expects to play.
ABOUT TEMPLE (9-3, 7-1 AAC)
With Walker’s status uncertain, the squad must also be prepared to go to battle without the services of sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead. He’s one of two players with more than 800 yards on the ground. The absence of Armstead, who had two TDs in last week’s 37-10 win over East Carolina, will cede more carries to leading rusher Jahad Thomas (856 yards, 12 TDs). Walker’s top target, sophomore Ventell Bryant is expected to be ready despite an arm issue. He averaged 93.3 yards over his final six games. Defensive linesman Haason Reddick led the AAC in tackles-for-loss with 21.5 and ranked second in sacks with 9.5.
ABOUT NAVY (9-2, 7-1 AAC)
Worth needs six rushing TDs to tie former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds’ NCAA record of 31 in a season. He has topped 100 yards on the ground in seven consecutive contests and scored multiple rushing TDs in six straight. This offensive outburst is part of a stretch run that has seen the Midshipmen top the 40-point mark in six of the last seven outings. Navy’s triple-option attack has been rolling along at a historic rate. They have piled up 480 rushing yards against East Carolina two weeks ago and then 496 in last Saturday’s 75-31 drubbing of SMU. It was the 10th-most accumulated rushing yards in program history. The Midshipmen won homefield advantage by virtue of their entry into the College Football Playoff rankings. They will be trying to extend a 15-game home winning streak, tied for the longest in the country.