Temple (1-6 AAC) will host Navy (2-5 AAC) on Saturday afternoon in the final game for the Owls and the last one for the Mids, before they meet up with Army.
Temple is having a miserable season as they've lost six straight games since beating Memphis 34-31 on Oct. 2. They were crushed at Tulsa on Nov. 20, 44-10. Navy is coming off a tough last-second loss, 38-35 to East Carolina at home. They will face Army from Philadelphia on Dec. 11 to end their season.
Last season, Navy edged Temple 31-29 at home as a 4-point underdog.
Prepping for ArmyNavy is just 2-8 this season, but they haven't always played like a 2-8 team. With no bowl game in their future, they went out last week against East Carolina and left it on the field. Usually, Navy ends up giving too many big plays, but on Saturday from Annapolis, they had a 90-yard TD run from Carlinos Acie and a 98-yard kickoff return from Maquel Haywood for a TD. But, it was the Pirates who scored the last 10 points and won on a 54-yard field goal as time expired.
“It is a heartbreaker,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said postgame in the Washington Post. “Just a heartbreaking loss. Heartbreaking for our seniors. . . . They are hurting. . . . I wanted to stay down there and tell them that I love them and say sorry we couldn’t pull it out for them.”
Niumatalolo was actually injured during the game and was wearing a knee brace in the press conference. The good news for Coach Ken's offense was that Navy may have found a running game heading into this game and Army in two weeks. QB Tai Lavatai completed 4-of-4 for 37 yards with two TDs and ran for 51 yards on 13 carries. Acie had six carries for 155 yards as the Mids rushed for 345 yards on 44 attempts. That used to be a normal occurrence, but this season the option offense has not always been in synch due to inconsistencies and injuries at the QB position. The pass defense was awful as Navy allowed 405 yards in the air.
The defense has been pretty solid thus far as they allow 377.6 yards per game and 241.2 yards in the air (87th). Offensively, they average 230.3 yards per game on the ground (10th), but just 18.6 points per game.
You need to score to winTemple has had a rough season, but it starts on offense. In their six-game losing streak, they've scored 45 combined points. Injuries have been a major problem as WR Randle Jones (head), who has 40 catches for 476 yards is questionable for this one. They were even dealing with the flu bug this week as 23 players missed practice. Justin Lynch has taken over for Georgia transfer D'Wan Mathis (1,223 yds, 6 TDs, 4 INTs), who could never quite produce partially due to an ankle injury. He eventually left the team last week and will now transfer.
Lynch is completing just 56.3% of his passes for 793 yards with four TDs and four INTs. He does have 299 yards rushing and three for 162 yards passing last week against Tulsa. That game was another disaster as the Golden Hurricane rushed for 216 yards and passe for 297 yards as the Owls could never do much offensively.
Temple is allowing 406 yards per game overall (83rd), but just 184.7 passing yards (13th). That's not relevant to this game as the Mids are an option team. They allow 221.3 rushing yards per game and that's not a good sign. They also rank 125th in points scored per game with 16.5.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
On the one hand, Navy doesn't have a lot of motivation with Army coming up. However, they need a win because if they lose here, they could end up 2-10 on the season since Army will be extremely tough. That would mean "Coach Ken" would really be on the hot seat. Their option offense under Lavatai is finally coming around and the Owls can't stop the run. They'll have the ball for about 40 minutes and this game will be over in less than three hours. Navy's defense should thrive considering they've just played ECU, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU and Houston. It's been a brutal schedule for a league (AAC) that is better than ACC.
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a lighter play because that total is so low. But I don't see Navy putting up 40 points. That's not who they are. They are not normally a big-play offense. They will milk the clock with double-digit play drives and Temple's offense is just not a threat. Then you have players coming off the flu and that's nearly half the team. The Owls are averaging less than 10 points per game over their last six. Take the under.