Temple Football (9-3, 7-1) is set to go to battle against #19 Navy (9-2, 7-1) on Saturday, as they will travel just south to Annapolis, Maryland. Kickoff is set for noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, and the action will be nationally televised on ABC.
Headlining the show on the gridiron will be Navy’s esteemed rushing attack ranked second in college football, matched with a stingy Temple defense that has shut out 3 teams in its past 10 games. A win for the Midshipmen would mark its first conference championship in its 136-year history- being that the team was independent before joining the AAC last season.
The visiting Temple Owls come into the game with a lot of program firsts on the season. Temple has won a program record 19 games in its past two seasons, and the unit is headed to consecutive bowl games for the first time. Matt Rhule will be looking to win his 10th game of the season for a second straight year- and in doing so he’ll break yet another program record, as no coach in Temple history has won 10 games in back to back seasons.
The Owls will also be riding a 6-game win streak into Saturday, and the team has done most of their damage to opposing teams this season on the defensive side of the ball. Phil Snow’s defense has held all but 2 quarterbacks they’ve faced under 200 yards passing- averaging 145.8 yards per game, which is good for 2nd in the NCAA behind only Michigan. As far as total defense, the Owls rank 3rd nationally- allowing a measly 273.4 yards of opposing offense per game.
Quarterback Will Worth has been sensational for the Midshipmen this season, tallying a total of 25 touchdowns in the team’s 11 games. Worth is the same player who spent the entirety of last season as the holder for the Midshipmen, and spent this past summer leading in to the current season taking second-team reps at QB behind fellow senior Tago Smith. That was until Navy’s Week 1 victory over Fordham, Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury which granted the reigns to Worth- the 6’1″ 210 pound former high school linebacker.
When comparing stats, both Worth and Reynolds posted very similar single-season statistics running the triple option offense. Worth has already surpassed Reynolds in the passing yard department, with 1,363 yards- including 8 touchdowns. As far as rushing, Worth ranks 4th in the AAC in yards with 1,181 and 25 touchdowns. Only 3 other quarterbacks in college football history have scored more rushing touchdowns, one of them being Reynolds.
Trying to score points for Temple to counter the scoring of the Midshipmen will be an offense led by two seniors, and former high school teammates, QB Phillip Walker and HB Jahad Thomas. Read a profile on the duo here. The two have powered a unit that has averaged 440 yards of offense per game during their 6-game win streak, and has largely gone under the radar due to the Owls stellar defense. Something to note however:
Phillip Walker has been in a walking boot, nursing his ankle, since the team won against East Carolina on Saturday although he is still expected to play. Matt Rhule said in his press conference he didn’t know the status of sophomore RB Ryquell Armstead- which puts more opportunity in the hands of Jahad Thomas. Thomas and Amstead have combined for 31 of the Owls 47 touchdowns this season.
The offense from the visiting team should keep rolling on Saturday, as the Navy defense has not been much to boast about this season.
The Midshipmen defense is allowing just over 30 points per game, including 440 yards per game of opposing offense, which ranks 8th (of 12) in the AAC. A majority of the hurt from the unit has came in the air- as opposing quarterbacks are averaging 265 yards passing per game.
With the Navy’s offensive attack against a rolling Temple defense- expect both teams to come out looking to make a statement, with serious bowl game implications on the line.