Military Bowl Preview
Temple Owls vs Wake Forrest Demon Deacons
Less than a month after defeating Navy for the American Athletic Conference title, Temple will return to Annapolis to take on Wake Forest in the Military Bowl(Enter Contest).
Coach Matt Rhule has Temple trending up with 20 wins over the last two years. This means both sides of the ball will be a handful for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forrest quarterback Phillip Walker threw for 20 touchdowns in 2016. The Owls have two running backs (Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead) that reached 918 yards. Despite losing a couple of key defenders from last year’s group, Temple’s defense remains one of the best in the Group of 5 ranks. The Owls limit opponents to just 17.2 points per game and 4.6 yards a play.
Wake Forest took a big step forward in coach Dave Clawson’s third year, reaching 6-6 after back-to-back 3-9 campaigns. Clawson is a program builder and had a young roster through his first two seasons. However, the Demon Deacons turned a corner in 2016 and can lean on a defense that limits opponents to 21.8 points a game.
ABOUT TEMPLE (10-3, 7-1 American Athletic Conference)
After struggling a bit on defense during the middle of the season, the Owls were solid over the season’s final month. They’ve limited five opponents to a total of 33 points. Two more seniors from New Jersey (Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike) have been disruptive along the defensive line, totaling 31.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and six forced fumbles. Stephaun Marshall and Delvon Randall are the top tacklers for a unit that has surrendered only one rushing and three passing touchdowns over the past five games.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (6-6, 3-5 ACC)
The Demon Deacons have several difference-makers on defense. Junior lineman Duke Ejiofor, senior linebacker Marquel Lee and freshman safety Jessie Bates III are among them. Ejiofor and Lee combined for 34 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks while Bates is second on the team in tackles to Lee and first in interceptions. Bates, who led all FBS freshmen in interceptions, interception return yards and interceptions returned for touchdowns, was named to the USA Today Freshman All-America Team.