The 2nd and final game of day 3 of bowl season has quite the match-up, with the 10-3 (24) Temple Owls taking on the 9-2 Toledo Rockets. The Temple Owls have had quite the season. They started the year 7-0 with wins against Penn State and Cincinnati, and suffered their first loss in a nail-bitter with the then 9th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They went on to lose just one more regular season game and were beaten by Houston in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. A win today would also give the Owls their first ever 11 win season. Despite their record, the offense is no powerhouse. They rank 93rd in total offense (369 YPG), 72nd in passing offense (215.5 PYG), 90th in rushing offense (153.6 RYG) and 52nd in scoring (30.8 PPG). The defense though, is a force. They rank 18th in total defense (329 YPG), 38th in passing defense (203.3 PYG), 21st in rushing defense (126.2 RYG) and 16th in scoring defense (19.2 PPG). This defensive success is owed to some of the talent on that side of the ball, particularly Tyler Matakevich. Matakevich is the leader for this defense and has been for several years now. He is the 7th player in the FBS history to record 100+ tackles 4 times and it isn’t hard to see why he’s been able to do that. Though he isn’t as fast or big as scouts may like, he has excellent instincts, he’s an incredibly physical player and he is a very reliable open-field tackler. Those traits, and the fact that he is an incredibly hard worker and is effectively self-made, put him in a good position to succeed at the next level. Chris Borland ring any bells? Matt Ioannidis (DT), Kyle Friend (C), Alex Wells (FS), Eric Lofton (OG) and Hershey Walton (DT) should not be ignored as NFL prospects. Toledo’s season certainly hasn’t been a disappointment either. After a 7-0 start – including a win against the SEC Arkansas Razorbacks – they were ranked 19th in the AP Polls. However 2 losses in their last 4 games led to them missing out on a MAC Championship game and they have also lost their head coach to Iowa State. Rockets’ fans will be hoping that motivates their team rather than derailing the end of a good year. Unlike the Owls, the Rockets are better on offense. They are the 29th total offense (463 YPG), 41st in passing offense (250.1 PYG), 26th in rushing offense (213.2 RYG) and 26th in scoring (35.3 PPG). Though their defense isn’t quite as good as the offense, they are no pushover. They rank 52nd in total defense (378 YPG), 107th in passing defense (262.9 PYG), 1th in rushing defense (115.5 RYG) and 21st in scoring (24th PPG). Their offensive production, mainly their ground game, is thanks to junior running back Kareem Hunt. Though his season has been plagued by injuries, he still finds himself just 106 yards away from his 2nd consecutive 1000-yard season. His success can be owed to his running style. He doesn’t cut like Jamaal Charles, but he runs with great balance and patience, and when he hits a gap he has great control of his feet and body in tight spaces, meaning he can enter a big crowd and appear on the other side, or make you miss in space. He’s certainly not disinclined to hit the home run ball. Along with Hunt, Alonzo Russell (WR), Rolan Mulligan (SS), Cheatham Norrils (CB), Orlon Jones (DT), Ruben Carter (C) and Trent Voss (DE) are worth a watch. If you want to watch this game, or any of the other bowl games, the complete bowl schedule can be found here, where you’ll be able to see how and when you can watch every game.
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