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.