Bowl games are supposed to be fun, and with two teams that have a lot of losing on their resumes, the last few years have been productive on the gridiron. The Duke Blue Devils and Temple Owls are known more for their exploits on the hardwood, but they’ll square off in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl on Thursday. Duke has quietly put together a solid program under David Cutcliffe, getting to their sixth bowl game in seven seasons. Temple’s success cost the program another coach when Geoff Collins bailed for the Georgia Tech gig, leaving Ed Foley as the interim. Foley directed the club at the Military Bowl two seasons ago after Matt Rhule left for Baylor, and the Owls were defeated.
BookMaker is the only place to bet on college football bowl games. BookMaker has the best lines for bettors, and your stocking might be a little bit fuller if you play here. The Walk-On's Independence Bowl will take place on Thursday, December 27, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. ET at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana
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Temple Owls -4
Duke Blue Devils +4
The end of the regular season saw the teams heading in opposite directions. Temple rebounded from an 0-2 start to win eight of its final 10 games. The Owls were the second-best team in the AAC, going 7-1 in league play with their only loss a 52-40 setback to Central Florida. They closed strong with wins over Houston, USF and Connecticut to finish 8-4 for their fourth straight winning season, something that hasn’t happened since the early 1970s.
Duke definitely needed a breather after getting smoked by Clemson and Wake Forest in its final two games, losing by a combined score of 94-13. They Dookies did cover the 29.5-point spread against Clemson, but they went just 3-6 ATS in their last nine games while losing four of their final six games. They are as healthy as they’ve been in some time and that should help their performance on the field.
Matchup to Watch
Duke gave up a bunch of yards on the ground in its last two games and has to be better against the run to slow down Temple’s attack. The Blue Devils were gouged for 340 yards by Wake and Clemson ran for 208 yards with nearly 6.0 yards per attempt. For the season, Duke ranked 116th against the run giving up 222.3 yards per game.
And that’s a good sign for Temple, which gets in trouble when trying to throw the football. Quarterbacks Anthony Russo and Frank Nutile combined to throw 18 interceptions with just 17 touchdowns during the regular season. We can expect Ryquell Armstead to get plenty of touches as long as he’s over the ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the UConn game. Armstead had five carries for 56 yards in that contest and ended the regular season with 1,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Player to Watch
There’s a good chance this could be the last game for Daniel Jones in a Duke uniform, and he’s looking to impress the NFL scouts. Jones is a prototypical QB for the next level with his size and arm strength, and the class this year is slim, putting him on the radar of several clubs in need of help at that position. Jones missed a few games earlier in the year and faltered in the last two games of the season. But when he’s on Jones is a talent. He threw for 2,251 yards with 17 touchdowns and only seven interceptions compiling a rating of 124.8.
Four times Jones threw for three or more scores and the Dookies were 3-1 in those games with the only loss coming in a shootout to Pitt. However, the inconsistency was a problem. He will be going against a decent defensive club with the Owls ranked 7th nationally against the pass surrendering only 166.3 yards per game through the air.
Live Betting Preview
There is a lot of pressure on Power 5 Duke to knock off the Group of 5 Owls and that will boost the Devils, at least at the beginning of this game. But Temple proved to be solid club by rattling off victories down the stretch and dropping competitive games to BC and UCF over its final 10 contests. We can excuse that Villanova game at the start of the year since the club morphed into a good one.
Temple’s balance will be tough for the Blue Devils to handle and we should see Russo back in the lineup after he missed the final game. Both teams have been susceptible to turnovers, which could flip the field. However, the Owls have been more explosive on offense and I like them to take control of the game with Armstead outdueling Duke’s Deon Jackson in a battle of quality of running backs.
NCAA Football Odds: Temple 34, Duke 27
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