#24 Temple (10-3, 7-1 American) vs. Toledo (9-2, 6-2 MAC)
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl at 7pm on ESPN
Question mark: Will Toledo be the same without head coach Matt Campbell?
Earlier this month Matt Campbell left Toledo to become the head coach at Iowa State. He chose not to coach the bowl game. Some guys want to, some guys don’t. Everyone has their reasons. But now Jason Candle steps to the forefront. He has been offensive coordinator since 2012. Candle has a lot more on his plate now but his main concern is making sure there’s no drop-off with his players.
Game inside the game: Toledo rushing attack vs. Temple run defense
Toledo likes to run the ball. Temple likes to stop the run. The Rockets go for 213 per game on the ground. Temple only allows 126. Running plays are a battle of will. Offensive linemen clash with defenders each and every play in an attempt to open up running lanes for ball carriers. The battle in the trenches between Toledo’s offense and Temple’s defense will go a long way in determining a winner.
Player to watch: Toledo running backs Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson
Normally, I try to limit the player to watch category to one player, but sometimes exceptions need to be made. That is the case with these two exceptional Rocket running backs that’ve combined to produce 1,764 yards and 17 touchdowns this fall. Hunt runs more between the tackles with Swanson coming in for the change of pace. The combination has been deadly. Both can carry the load for an entire drive. Both can catch the ball out of the backfield. Both should be coming back next year. Hunt is a junior, Swanson just a sophomore. Watch these two go to work to familiarize yourself for next season.
X-factor: Toledo offense vs. Temple defense on third downs
If you look at the Owls from a statistical angle it’s hard to figure out how they win. Sure, they hold opponents to 19 points per game, but how? It’s simple actually. The Temple defense makes stops on third down. They hold opponents to a 31 percent third-down conversion rate, good for fourteenth in the FBS. Toledo, however, ranks sixteenth in third-down efficiency at 46 percent. This is where I think the game will be decided. If the Rockets can pick up first downs and sustain drives the game will swing their way. If the Owls turn third downs into kicks they’ll be playing their game.
Prediction: Toledo over #24 Temple, 33-27
I think the Rockets, behind Hunt and Swanson, have what it takes to beat the Owls. That said, it will not be at all easy. This will be a back-and-forth game. Toledo will have to make a play late to earn the win. I believe they will.