WHO: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. No. 24 Temple (10-3)
WHAT: The 9th Military Bowl
WHEN: December 27, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE SKINNY: The game itself has been mostly an afterthought for both teams in the month of December given what has gone on around the programs off the field, but the two resurgent football teams will still meet up to play a football came looking too cap off a banner season for both.
For Temple, they’ll be making a return trip to Annapolis just three weeks after upsetting Navy to capture the American Athletic Conference title for the second ever conference championship in football at the school. As great a run as that was for the Owls, that success came with a price as head coach Matt Rhule departed for Baylor not long after. Former Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was brought on as his replacement but you do wonder what the motivation factor will be for this game from standout defensive lineman Haason Reddick and company.
As for Wake Forest, they had an impressive turnaround in 2016 that resulted in equalling their win total from the past two years combined. That produced a bowl invite for the first time under head coach Dave Clawson but the excitement over making the postseason has been overshadowed by the #WakeyLeaks scandal that has resulted from a radio analyst giving opponents certain aspects of the Demon Deacons’ game plans over the past two years. Add to that the loss of defensive coordinator Mike Elko to Notre Dame and it hasn’t been a great month of December for the team.
Wake Forest can turn that around with their first bowl win since 2008 but it is probably a bit too much to ask given how talented Temple has been this season. The Owls end up winning this one thanks to their explosive offense getting things done in the fourth quarter to open up a close one for most of the day.
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +11½
THE PREDICTION: Temple 31, Wake Forest 20