Independence Bowl  When: Today, 1:30pm . TV: ESPN

Duke (7-5) vs. Temple (8-4) Location: Shreveport, Louisiana

Weather: Possible Thunderstorms. High around 60. Winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 100%. (Reported Dec. 24)

Line open: Temple -3, 56.5 (BetDSI)

Line currently (Dec 20th): Temple -3, 56.5, -170 ML (BetDSI). Temple -3.5, 55, -165 ML (Bovada)

By John Hammerschmidt Jr.

When it comes to handicapping the bowl games, the two biggest things to look at are the motivation and who won’t be suiting up.

This is Temple’s fifth straight bowl game, and Duke has made it 6 out of the last 7, so just making a bowl game this year isn’t as big of a deal to these teams.

But recently, Temple just lost their head coach Geoff Collins to Georgia Tech, and the team will be led by the electric TE coach Ed Foley:

https://twitter.com/Temple_FB/status/1072543104429948932

Foley had the media fired up for this game on Dec 11th, so just imagine how the team is going to react to one of these speeches right before kickoff and at halftime. By the way, this isn’t Foley’s first time as the interim HC; he was the interim head coach for Temple in 2016 when Matt Rhule left for the Baylor job right before the AAC Championship. The Foley led Owls beat Navy to win the AAC 34-10, but then lost to Wake Forest 34-26 in the military bowl. In that bowl game Temple was down 31-10 at the half and stormed back but came up short.

Temple is expected to have starting QB Anthony Russo and starting RB Ryquell Armstead (above) available. Russo didn’t play in their last game against UConn and was seen wearing a cast on the sideline, and Armstead has been battling an ankle injury for a good part of the season. These two playing is great news, Temple is 7-2 this year with Russo starting with big wins against Maryland, Cincinnati, and Houston. And having Armstead back in even bigger, in one of their toughest losses at Boston College where Russo did not play well, this Temple offense put up 35 points, and 4 of those touchdowns came from Armstead, whereas Clemson only scored 27 points at Boston College on college gameday.

Temple recently hired Miami Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz will be finishing out the season at Miami, but he did coach against Duke this year, where Duke won 20-12 in a monsoon in South Florida, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he and coach Foley have had a few conversations regarding this matchup with Duke.

When it comes to turning the ball over, this Temple offense is one of the best in college football forcing 28 turnovers this year, 12 of those in the last 3 games. Whereas Duke ranked last in the ACC in turnovers forced. Russo has been known to turn the ball over, but its more likely he doesn’t against this depleted Duke defense.

On the other side, Duke’s star QB and leader Daniel Jones will be playing. Jones is a projected first round draft pick, and we’ve seen a number of top draft picks opt-out of the bowl games due to risk of injury.

Duke started off the year strong winning 4 games in a row, 3 of those were against Army, at Northwestern, and at Baylor. After that injuries to their defense started to pile up. In the last half of the season they have allowed over 200 rush yards in 6 of their final 7 games.

If you’re hesitant to pick Temple because of the coaching change, so far, interim head coaches have been doing very well in their bowl games. App State and Utah State both were without their head coaches, and yet App state beat Middle Tennessee St 45-13, and Utah St beat North Texas 52-13. Also, if you’re hesitant to pick the AAC team vs an ACC team, this has been a very good year for the AAC, and a very bad year for the ACC in terms of quality top to bottom.

Temple moved to -4.5 but rebounded back to -3, and I am going with the Owls. Yes, I am a Temple student, but I grew up a die hard Duke basketball fan and have been rooting for their football team this year. I see Temple matching up very well against Duke. I love Ryquell Armstead against a poor Duke rush defense which has had a lot of injuries. Also like this Temple pass defense against Jones and Duke. Finding trends are important, this Duke team started hot and finished cold, whereas Temple started cold and finished hot. I would also lean towards the under due to a high chance of a thunderstorm, if the game is delayed players will stiffen up and get out of rhythm, if the number is still around 54-56 the day of with bad weather, jump on it quick because it will fall fast.

Stats to look at:

Pass Offense: Duke 64th-Temple 40th

Pass Defense: Duke 34th-Temple 7th

Rush Offense: Duke 72nd-Temple 67th

Rush Defense: Duke 116th-Temple 90th

Temple: Anthony Russo 57.8% passing for 2,335 yards, 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 129.1 passer rating in 9 games

Ryquell Armstead: 210 attempts for 1098 yards at 5.2 YPC and 13 touchdowns in 10 games.

Duke: Daniel Jones 59% passing for 2,251 yards, 17 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 124.8 passer rating. 325 yards rushing and 2 rushing touchdowns.

Deon Jackson: 151 attempts for 806 yards at 5.3 YPC and 7 touchdowns.