The 42nd Independence Bowl will feature the Duke Blue Devils and the Temple Owls. Last year the Florida State Seminoles defeated Southern Miss 42-13, but this game is likely to be a much closer affair, as Temple enters the game as three-point favorites.
Duke enters the game with a 7-5 record, losing their final two games of the season. Both were dominating losses to Clemson and Wake Forest. On the other side, Temple has a record of 8-4 after winning their final three games of the year. That included a decisive 57-7 victory over Connecticut, which was their third consecutive win, wrapping up their regular season play.
Temple enters this contest as a three-point favorite with the total being set at 56.0. The spread has been as big as 3.5 for Temple. It is the fourth consecutive year the Owls are playing in a Bowl game, while their overall record in Bowls games is 3-4.
Duke Looks to End Season on High Note
The Duke Blue Devils (6-6-0 ATS, 6-6-0 O/U) enter the Independence Bowl as losers of their last two games and four of their last six, but they have had some impressive victories this season. That includes a 20-12 victory over the University of Miami on November 3rd as well as a seven-point victory over archrival North Carolina a week later. However, the team was crushed in their final two games, losing to Clemson 35-6 before falling to Wake Forest 59-7.
Duke is averaging 27.2 points per contest (No. 78 in the country) while allowing 27.4 per game (70). They are producing on offense 392.6 yards per game (72) while giving up 419.4 per contest (82). Duke has outscored opponents in every quarter this season except the fourth, where they have been outscored 83-47.
The Blue Devils are led by quarterback Daniel Jones who has thrown for 2251 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Jones has completed 59.0% of his passes and has thrown seven interceptions this season. He has also rushed for 325 yards and two scores. Deon Jackson is the leader in rushing for Duke with 826 yards and seven touchdowns. Two receivers have been the primary targets for Jones this season. T.J. Rahming has 571 yards on 63 catches with six touchdowns while Johnathan Lloyd has 46 receptions for 557 yards and five scores.
Owls Look to Make it Four in a Row
The Temple Owls (8-4-0 ATS, 5-7-0 O/U) will look to earn their second straight victory in Bowl games, for the first time in their history, after defeating Florida International in the Gasparilla Bowl last year. This will be a bittersweet contest for the Owls, as head coach Geoff Collins left to take over the Georgia Tech program. Assistant head coach Ed Foley will coach the team in the bowl game. Notable is the fact that Foley coached the team in the Military Bowl against Wake Forest two year ago, a clash in which the Owls lost outright with 26-34, despite the fact that they were double-digit favorite.
The Owls have won their last three contests, scoring at least 57 points in two of those games. That includes a 57-7 victory over UConn to end the year. Temple has won six of their last seven games, defeating Cincinnati, who was ranked No. 20 at the time. Their only loss was a 52-40 defeat at the hands of No. 9 UCF.
The Temple offense has been quite efficient this season, averaging 420.3 (ranked No. 50) yards per game and 35.6 points per contest (22). The defense is yielding 24.7 points per game (46) and allowing 356.7 yards per contest (40). Despite outgaining their opponents by nearly 800 yards this season, the time of possession has favored opponents 31:12 to 24:48.
Ryquell Armstead is the one player who makes this offense go, rushing for 1098 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Anthony Russo is the team’s primary quarterback, throwing for 2335 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, he has completed just 57.9% of his passes with 13 interceptions. Ventell Bryant leads the team in receptions with 47 for 659 yards and Branden Mack leads the team in touchdown receptions with five.
4-0 ATS in their last four bowl games.
4-0 ATS in their last four games in December.
4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
7-2 ATS in their last nine games against teams with a winning record.
14-6 ATS in their last 20 games against teams with a winning record.
37-17 ATS in their last 54 games.
7-2 ATS in their last nine games on a Thursday.
The Winner Prediction
In games like this, often times the turnover battle will be the difference maker. Russo has played well this season, but he cannot afford to force balls as he has at times this season. That would give Duke way too much of an opportunity to take command of this game.
Temple started out struggling this season but has gotten on a roll. With Duke only averaging 3.0 yards per carry in each of their last two losses, that will take away much of their ability to move the ball, making the Owls the team to go with, in this contest.
The Pick: Temple Owls -3.0 (-110)
The two teams are averaging a combined total of nearly 63 points per game. Temple has been on fire offensively, scoring at least 40 in three of their last four games with their only game under in that span being a 27-17 victory over USF. The Duke offense has been inconsistent, to say the least, scoring 42 against North Carolina then scoring a combined total of 13 against Clemson and Wake Forest.
The Owls will likely score a lot in this game leaving the question as to whether Duke can score as well? We believe that’s a good possibility, so take the over.