Temple Owls at Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt Stadium – Nashville, Tennessee
Thursday, August 28, 2014, 9:15 pm Eastern, TV: SEC Network
Opening Line: Vanderbilt -17
Current Line: Vanderbilt -14
Opening Total: 52
Current Total: 52
Opening Money Line: Vanderbilt -950 / Temple +625
Current Money Line: Vanderbilt -535 / Temple +430
James Franklin led the Vanderbilt Commodores to three straight bowl berths, something they hadn’t done ever in school history. Franklin left Vanderbilt to become the head coach at his alma mater Penn State. Vanderbilt hired Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason as the new head coach. Vanderbilt opens the season Thursday at home against Temple. This is only the third meeting ever between Vanderbilt and Temple. Each team has won once, but Temple won the last meeting 43-13 in 2006.
Temple went 2-10 last season under coach Matt Rhule, now in his second year as coach of the Owls. Temple has 13 starters back including 8 on defense. The Owls averaged 250 passing yards and 149 rushing yards last season. Temple was outscored 29-25 last season.
Vanderbilt went 9-4 last season and beat Houston 41-24 in the Compass Bowl. Vanderbilt won 5 straight games to end the season Only 10 starters are back for Mason and the Commodores. Vanderbilt averaged 228 passing and 139 rushing yards per game last season. The Commodores outscored opponents 30-25 last year.
Sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker started the last 7 games of the season for Temple last year. He threw for 2,084 yards with 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and also rushed for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns. He will start full time in 2014. His elusiveness will be a strength behind an offensive line that only returns one starter. The Owls gave up 32 sacks last season, something that needs to improve.
The top two running backs return in Kenneth Harper (136 carries, 613 yards and 9 touchdowns, along 26 catches for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Zaire Williams (101 carries for 533 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 11 catches.)
Jalen Fitzpatrick (38 catches for 429 yards and 3 touchdowns) and John Christopher (31 catches, 331 yards and 2 touchdowns) will be the top receivers.
The defense will be anchored by potential All-Conference linebacker Tyler Matakevich who had 137 tackles last season. The linebackers are solid but the line and secondary must improve drastically or it could be another long season. The Owls only had 3 sacks and 3 interceptions last season.
Quarterback Patton Robinette beat out redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary for the starting job. Robinette split time with Austyn Carta-Samuels last year at quarterback. Robinette threw for 642 yards with 4 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. The dual threat Robinette also rushed for 214 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Running back Jerron Seymour had 164 carries for 716 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he also had 19 catches. Brian Kimbrow is also back after rushing for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.
The Commodores must replace the SEC’s all time leading receiver Jordan Matthews who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jordan Cunningham and C.J. Duncan headline an inexperienced receiving corps.
The Vanderbilt defense should improve with head coach Mason who was widely considered to be one of the ebst defensive coordinators in the country at Stanford. Six starters return in the front seven. However all four starters in the secondary must be replaced.
Temple is 6-0-1 ATS in August, 4-0 in road games, and on fieldturf, 7-1 overall, 3-7 in non-conference games, and 1-5-1 in Thursday games.
Vanderbilt is 4-1 ATS in Thursday games and overall, and 15-7 at home.
Vanderbilt probably won’t win 9 games again this season like they did last year. Still, they should beat a rebuilding Temple team with ease at home. This line opened at -17 and has moved to -14. I htink a two touchdown line is good value on Vanderbilt.
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