College Football Boca Raton Bowl Betting Preview: Toledo Rockets vs #24 Temple Owls

2015 Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
Toledo Rockets vs #24 Temple Owls
FAU Stadium – Boca Raton, Florida
Tuesday, December 22, 2015, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Temple -1
Current Line: Temple -2 1/2 (-120)
Opening Total: 52 1/2
Current Total: 49 1/2
Opening Money Line: Temple -115 / Toledo -105
Current Money Line: Temple -150 / Toledo +130

Temple is a 2.5 point favorite against Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Temple is a 2.5 point favorite against Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl.

The 9-2 Toledo Rockets take on the 10-3 Temple Owls in the Boca Raton Bowl Tuesday night. Toledo leads the series 7-3 against Temple, The Rockets have won 3 of the last 4 games including 36-13 in Philadelphia in 2011. The teams were both members of the MAC from 2007-11.

Toledo was part of a four way tie for first at 6-2 in the MAC West. However, Northern Illinois won the tie-breaker and played in the MAC Championship game. The Rockets are 9-5 all-time in bowl games and are making their fifth trip to a bowl in the last six seasons. Toledo beat Arkansas State 63-44 in the Bowl last year in Mobile.

Temple won the East Division of the American Athletic Conference with a 7-1 record. The Owls lost to Houston 24-13 in the AAC Championship game in Houston. Temple is 2-2 all-time in bowl games and is in a bowl for the first time since beating Wyoming 37-15 in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl.

Toledo coach Matt Campbell left to take over the Iowa State program. Offensive coordinator Jason Candle was promoted to head coach, but defensive coordinator John Heacock will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game. Toledo had their season opener against Stony Brook cancelled due to bad weather. The Rockets started off the season 7-0, but went 2-2 down the stretch. Toledo has home losses to Northern Illinois 32-27 and Western Michigan 35-30 in the regular season finale. The Rockets have road wins at Arkansas 16-12 in Little Rock, at Ball State 24-10, Massachusetts 51-35, Central Michigan 28-23, and Bowling Green 44-28, along with home wins over Iowa State 30-23, Arkansas State 37-7, Kent State 38-7, and Eastern Michigan 63-20.

Toledo was a 7 point favorite against Western Michigan and the total was 58.5. The Rockets would have clinched the West Division title outright with a win. The first half featured 6 lead changes, with WMU taking a 25-21 lead into halftime. The Broncos would lead by 11 twice in the second half. Toledo scored with 1:18 left to make it 35-30 but missed a two point conversion. The Rockets failed to recover the onside kick, and WMU ran out the clock to secure the upset. Toledo is 8-2-1 ATS and the total is 3-8 this season.

Temple is coached by Matt Rhule. The Owls have a home loss to Notre Dame 24-20 and a road loss to South Florida 44-23. Temple has home wins over Penn State 27-10, Tulane 49-10, Central Florida 30-16, Memphis 31-12 and Connecticut 27-3 last week. The Owls also have road wins over Cincinnati 34-26, Massachusetts 25-23, Charlotte 37-3, East Carolina 24-14, and SMU 60-40.

In the AAC championship game, Temple was a 5.5 point underdog at Houston and the total was 52.5. The Cougars took a 17-0 lead with 5:32 left in the second quarter, and would lead 17-3 at halftime. Houston expanded the lead to 24-3, and held on for the 24-13 win. Temple outgained Houston but the Owls could not overcome 2 turnovers. Temple is 9-4 ATS and the total is 5-8 this season.

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Toledo is outscoring teams 35-23 this season. The Rockets are #26 or better in both categories nationally. Toledo averages 464 yards per game on offense including 250 passing and 214 rushing. The Rockets are #41 or better in all three categories. On defense, Toledo allows 379 total yards including 261 passing and 118 rushing. The Rockets are #13 in rush defense, but #106 in pass defense out of 128 teams. Toledo has forced 21 turnovers and has 14 of their own. The Rockets average 69 penalty yards per game and opponents average 78 per game. Toledo is 91/195 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 81/200. The Rockets have forced 25 sacks and allowed 4 this season. Toledo is 46/55 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns, and opponents are 23/35 with 15 touchdowns.

Quarterback Phillip Ely, a transfer from Alabama, has thrown for 2,680 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Michael Julian has thrown for 71 yards with a touchdown, and also has 64 rushing yards. Another back-up Jalen Reese is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

Running back Kareem Hunt has 164 carries for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 8 catches. Terry Swanson has 132 carries for 870 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 64 yards. Damion Jones-Moore has 80 carries for 404 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 4 touchdowns. Marc Remy has 29 carries for 171 yards, plus 9 catches.

Receiver Cody Thompson has 33 catches for 706 yards and 4 touchdowns. Alonzo Russell has 33 catches for 586 yards and 5 touchdowns. Corey Jones has 52 catches for 535 yards and 4 touchdowns. Diontae Johnson has 12 catches for 209 yards with 3 touchdowns. Michael Roberts has 18 catches for 188 yards and 4 touchdowns.

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Temple is outscoring teams 31-19 this season. The Owls are #16 in points allowed nationally. Temple averages 369 total yards per game including 216 passing and 154 rushing. The Owls are #72 or worse in all three categories. On defense, Temple is allowing 329 total yards including 203 passing and 126 rushing yards. The Owls are #17 in total defense, #20 in rush defense and #39 against the pass. Temple has 24 takeaways and 16 giveaways. The Owls average 57 penalty yards per game and opponents average 70 per game. Temple is 92/218 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/210. The Owls have forced 32 sacks and allowed 16 this season. Temple is 50/57 scoring in the red zone with 35 touchdowns and opponents are 32/41 with 17 touchdowns. The Owls have four defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Temple quarterback P.J. Walker has completed 57% of his passes for 2,737 yards with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 71 carries for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Running back Jahad Thompson has 268 carries for 1,257 yards with 17 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 216 yards and a touchdown. He also has a kick return for a touchdown.  Jager Gardner has 32 carries for 184 yards and a touchdown. Ryquell Armstead has 43 carries for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. David Hood has 42 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown, plus 5 catches and a touchdown.

Receiver Robby Anderson has 64 catches for 873 yards and 7 touchdowns. Ventell Bryant has 37 catches for 521 yards and 3 touchdowns. John Christopher has 19 catches for 205 yards. Brandon Shippen, Kip Patton, Adonis Jennings and Romond Deloatch will also get some catches. Jennings and Deloatch have combined for five touchdown catches.

Toledo is 3-0-1 ATS in non-conference games, 7-1-1 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 11-2-2 overall, 5-1-1 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 5-2-1 against teams with winning records, 5-2 on grass, 1-3-1 in December, and 1-4-1 after a straight up loss.

Temple is 4-0 ATS after failing to cover, and after rushing for less than 100 yards, 4-1 after allowing more than 200 rushing yards and on grass, 11-4 after a straight up loss, 5-2 against teams with winning records, 10-4 overall, 39-17-1 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 1-4 against MAC teams, and 0-3-1 in Tuesday games.

Both of these teams came within a few plays of playing in one the New Year’s Six Bowl games. However, they are playing before Christmas. Both teams have a lot of talent, but I think Temple’s dominant defense will be the difference. I like the Owls to win a close low scoring game.

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