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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Temple Owls Military Bowl Preview

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Temple is going bowling for a fifth consecutive season

NCAA Football: Temple at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Friday, December 27, 2019

Kickoff Time: 12 p.m. EST

Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland

Watch: ESPN

All-Time Series: First ever meeting

Betting Lines: UNC -5, O/U 53.5


North Carolina Tar Heels Outlook

Mack Brown’s arrival to North Carolina has immediately paid dividends. The former Texas coach returned to the sidelines after a lengthy absence and has the Tar Heels in a bowl game following an emphatic 41-10 win over rivals NC State in their regular season finale.

The Tar Heels are led by quarterback Sam Howell, who has etched his name into the UNC history books after just one season in Chapel Hill. He was named the Atlantic Coastal Conference Rookie of the Year after throwing for a league-high 3,347 passing yards, with 35 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions. He was particularly impressive in that win over NC State, throwing for 401 yards and three touchdowns.

The playmakers around Howell allowed him to break many of Mitchell Trubisky’s records. Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown give Howell to big-play threats on the outside, while Michael Carter and Javonte Williams handle the ground work. The receivers totaled 947 yards receiving each, while both running backs had at least 1,000 yards on offense. North Carolina finished the regular season 14th in the FBS in total offense.

Prior to the final two games of the season, the Tar Heels defense was allowing points in bunches. Virginia Tech scored 43 points, Virginia 38 two weeks later and Pittsburgh put up 34 points the week prior to defeating Mercer. Injuries derailed the defense, especially in the secondary, but UNC is hopeful the extended time off will allow some of their defensive stars back for this bowl game.

Temple Owls Outlook

This will be Temple’s third time appearing in the Military Bowl, having done so in 2016 and 2009. It was previously titled the EagleBank Bowl, and when the Owls appeared in that 2009 bowl game, it was their first since 1979. Times have changed as the Owls are going bowling for the fifth consecutive season, the longest streak in program history.

Rod Carey is in a bowl game in his first season at Temple. He was regular in postseason play while at Northern Illinois, but the knock against Carey is his team can never get the job done in a bowl game. He is 0-6 all-time in bowl games, and five of those games were lost by 21 points or more.

The key for Temple is getting the offense into a rhythm on the ground. The Owls failed to reach 100 yards rushing in all four of their losses, With Jager Gardner out due to a season-ending injury, true freshman Re’Mahn Davis will carry the load in this one. Davis finished the regular season with 900 yards and seven rushing touchdowns, and 137 receiving yards and a score.

Quarterback Anthony Russo has a three-headed monster at receiver in Jadan Blue, Branden Mack and Isaiah Wright. Blue owns the single-season school records for receptions (87) and receiving yards (975), and 25 more yards would make him the first Owls player to have over 1,000 yards receiving. Mack leads Temple with seven touchdown receptions, and five games over 100 receiving yards. Wright leads the team in all-purpose yards with 1,113.

The Temple defense is led by American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche. He has 13 sacks this season, tied for sixth best in the nation. He is the conference leader in all-time sacks with 26, and is tied for the most sacks in a single season by an Owl. One more sack would break Adrian Robinson’s 2009 single-season record. Getting to the quarterback is just as crucial as establishing the run as Temple is 7-1 on the year when recording three or more sacks.

Prediction

It is hard to overlook the coaches records in bowl games. Brown is 13-8 in bowl games, while we previously noted Carey’s 0-6 mark. But things are different this time around. Brown is no longer at Texas, and Carey is out of the Mid-American Conference. The Owls already have two wins over Power Five programs this season, and make it three with their third bowl win of the decade.

Temple 33 - UNC 30