North Carolina vs. Temple: Military Bowl fearless prediction and game preview.
North Carolina vs. Temple: Military Bowl Broadcast
Date: Friday, December 27
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (click to watch for free)
Venue: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
Tickets: Get Military Bowl Tickets Here
North Carolina (6-6) vs. Temple (8-4) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Military Bowl
– The Military Bowl has been a great moment for the Group of Five teams over the years against the mighty ACC. Once this thing changed up to become the ACC vs. the American Athletic – and even Conference USA in 2013 – the Group of Five team has gone 4-2 including wins in each of the last two seasons. However …
– It’s always one of the ACC’s true also-ran teams coming into this game, but at least North Carolina should be fired up to be here – it’s not going to be snobby against the Group of Fiver. Not only is UNC in its first bowl game since Mitch – and he was Mitch then – Trubisky couldn’t come through late in the loss to Stanford in the 2016 Sun Bowl, but the program has won just one bowl since 2010 and just two since 2001. A bowl win would be a really big deal, especially considering what it would mean to cap off the first year under Mack Brown.
– A bowl game is still a really big deal to Temple. The program has gone to just eight of these things, and six of those have been in the last 11 years. More than that, the Owls have won just two bowl games since taking down Cal in the 1979 Garden State Bowl. After losing three of the last four since 2011, this would be a big moment for the program as well as the American Athletic Conference.
CFN Podcast: Military Bowl discussion, picks
Why Temple Will Win
– It might not bear out in the stats, but this isn’t the sharpest of North Carolina teams. There aren’t a ton of giveaways – turnover margin isn’t a problem – and the penalties aren’t an issue, but the timing just hasn’t quite been there. The third down misfires tend to stand out, the errors seem to come at the worst times, and just isn’t enough consistency.
There were only 11 turnovers on the year, but three of them led the way to the loss to Appalachian State and the one other time the Tar Heels lost the turnover battle was in a loss to Pitt. Again, this is hardly a mistake-prone team, but it also played nine games decided by a touchdown or less. Just one misfire here and there proved costly.
And how does a team force those mistakes?
– The Temple pass rush has been fantastic all year. It’s not a coincidence that when the defensive line is dominating, the team wins. When the Owls come up with three sacks or more, they’re 7-1 with the lone loss coming to Cincinnati in a tough 15-13 fight on the road. North Carolina’s leaky O line gives up an average of over three sacks per game. That helps because …
– North Carolina operates through the air. It hit the 300-yard mark in six of its last nine games, but that goes into the teeth of Temple’s biggest strength. It’s possible to dink and dunk on the Owl secondary, but this group doesn’t get hit for a whole slew of big plays.
SMU and UCF each went off with their respective passing attacks, and Memphis was able to hit a few home runs, but that was about it. The Owls allowed five yards or fewer per pass six times, and finished the regular season with the eighth-most efficient pass D.
Why North Carolina Will Win
– It’s Rod Carey in a bowl game. The first year Temple head man is a terrific coach who led the way to two MAC titles for Northern Illinois and guided Temple to a strong eight-win season and a bowl game. However, he’s 0-6 in bowl games – and badly. He lost five of those bowls 21 points or more, and dropped the other in a 21-14 misfire against Utah State in your 2013 Poinsettia.
And Mack Brown? He’s 13-8 all-time and won ten of his 15 at Texas.
– Temple’s defense is great, but the team doesn’t win when the O falls flat. The Owls are 8-0 when generating more than 310 yards or more, and 0-4 when coming up with that many or fewer. North Carolina has only allowed fewer than 310 yards three times, but it stepped up and did it in each of the last two games of the regular season.
Granted, one of those games was against Mercer, but as long as the Tar Heel run defense is working, all will be fine. All four Temple losses came in the four games when the running game failed to hit 100 yards.
– This could be America’s introduction to Sam Howell. The big college football fan has seen the North Carolina freshman quarterback, but you had to go out of your way to watch most Tar Heel games. He got better as the season went on, closing out with five 300-yard games in his last seven outings. He threw two touchdown passes or more in every game with three or more in each of the last four games.
Last year, Danny Jones went from being a nice quarterback to looking like a star pro prospect with his bowl performance in Duke’s win over Temple. Howell might not be a top ten overall pick in a few years, but he should be in for a big game.