It sure did not feel as though the Temple Owls (8-5) were playing with an interim head coach in the first half of the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, but the second half proved there was a decided coaching advantage for Duke (8-5). Duke outscored Temple 35-0 in the second half en route to a 56-27 victory. The victory gave Duke the first back-to-back bowl victories in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
Temple simply had no answers for Duke, led by quarterback Daniel Jones. After going up 20-7 in the second quarter, Temple allowed Duke to score touchdowns on seven straight offensive possessions as Duke blew by the Owls in all facets of the game. Miscues by Duke helped give Temple a lead at halftime but the inability to move or control the football in the second half did Temple absolutely no favors.
Jones passed for 423 yards and five touchdowns in his final game in a Duke uniform. Both were Independence Bowl records, and Jones also scored a rushing touchdown. T.J. Rahming was a monster in the passing game with 240 receiving yards on 12 receptions as Temple simply could not stop him.
The Blue Devils now have six all-time bowl victories, and David Cutcliffe has won three of them, all since 2015.
Temple was playing the game under interim head coach Ed Foley. Foley generated some buzz with his press conferences leading up to the game and his enthusiasm for leading the Owls in the game following the departure of Geoff Collins to Georgia Tech, but he was no match against Cutcliffe in the second half as Temple just crumbled. Incoming Temple head coach Manny Diaz checked in on the game form New York as he was preparing to coach his final game as defensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. That game was next on the bowl schedule on Thursday. This game alone should not suggest Temple is a complete disaster for Diaz to take over, because Temple was competitive in the second half of the season and showed some good promise down the stretch and almost made a push to potentially play for the AAC title. But this loss will give Diaz something to either completely ignore with a clean slate or offer as a reminder of how much Temple still has to do to move forward.
The loss by Temple was yet another disaster of a bowl result for the American Athletic Conference, a conference who is having a difficult time convincing anyone this bowl season they are truly a power conference. The conference’s only win to date was Tulane’s victory over Louisiana in the Cure Bowl at the beginning of the bowl season. Since then, South Florida was defeated by 18 points in their own stadium by Marshall and Houston gave up 70 points to Army. Memphis also lost to Wake Forest, although that was at least a close game.
Next up for Duke? Alabama in Atlanta to open the 2019 season on Aug. 31, 2019. The countdown is on for the Blue Devils.
And then there were two.
Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami. Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.
“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”
A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas. Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.
With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE). Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.
A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”
Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.
Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.
Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.
The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.
Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.
Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.
Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.
Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.
Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.
Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.