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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Temple Owls
Where and when: Military Bowl, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland, Friday, 12 pm EST
Two equally dangerous squads in the Temple Owls and the North Carolina Tar Heels will face each other on Friday, December 27th, at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, in the Military Bowl. There have been no recent meetings amongst these squads, but it is worth noting that the Owls enter this matchup winners of three of their last four games while going 4-0 against the spread. The Tar Heels became bowl eligible by winning their final two games of the year in blowout fashion versus the Mercer Bears along with their finale against the North Carolina State Wolfpack while covering in both contests.
On the surface, each of these teams can be considered a microcosm of the other. Both Temple and North Carolina possessed solid passing attacks in 2019 as each of their signal-callers threw for at least 2700 yards; However, each team has shown a tendency to make critical mistakes within the defensive secondary in defending the pass. Furthermore, the Tar Heels seem to boast the more solid rushing attack in this instance while the Owls, against stiff competition, have gotten pushed around within the trenches while allowing too many yards on the ground.
Rushing attack has made the Tar Heels even more dangerousSophomore running back Javonte Williams along with junior Michael Carter are each 1000-yard rushers for coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels this season as the team boasts the 43rd ranked rushing attack in the nation with 184 yards per game. Furthermore, Williams followed up a 3 touchdown effort by Carter against the Mercer Bears with a 2 touchdown performance in the Tar Heels’ victory over the Wolfpack in the finale on November 20th. However, QB Sam Howell (3347 yds, 35 TD’s, 7 INT’s, 60% comp.) was the man versus NC State in throwing for 401 yards, 3 scores, compared to a pick in the blowout win. And while this was the freshman’s highest passing output of the year, the QB has thrown for 300+ yards in three of his last four outings.
His favorite target is junior Dazz Newsome, who has six touchdown catches in the last six games for UNC, including a touchdown pass versus the Bears and the Wolfpack on his way to two-straight 100-yard receiving games. Safety Harrison Hand has three picks on the year for Temple, however, along with 43 solo tackles. Their pass secondary is allowing over 200 yards passing per game as this is good for a 43rd national ranking. Important to note that Howell and the Tar Heels possess the 25th passing attack in the country with 285 yards per outing. UNC, however, may not have to encounter cornerback Benny Walls (31 solo, 2 INT’s) as the playmaker is questionable due to an upper-body injury. UNC must also beware of defensive end Quincy Roche, who has racked up 12 sacks on the year (33 solo tackles,, FF).
Russo key to Owls offensive attackTemple’s passing attack has shown progress with sophomore Anthony Russo under center in 2019. He has thrown for a total of 2733 yards along with throwing for 21 touchdowns and 12 picks. On the credit side, the sophomore has thrown for 200+ yards, 5 TD’s, and 2 INT’s in his last three outings. UNC can possibly be exploited in this area as they are 78th in the country in defending the pass in allowing 234 yards per game in 2019. They possess active performers within the linebacking corps with Chazz Suratt (62 solo, 6 sacks, INT) along with the defensive backfield with Myles Wolfork stepping up recently in posing 3 picks.
They will certainly need their top running back Re’Mahn Davis to step up much as he did versus the Wolfpack (105 yards, TD) as their rushing attack, averaging 143 yards per outing, will be facing a stubborn defensive unit for the Tar Heels that are allowing 58th in stopping the run. Sophomore Jadan Blue has also been a weapon for Russo and is currently 25 yards shy of reaching the 1000-yard receiving mark for the year. However, Blue halted a three-game streak of 100+yards receiving in recording just 52 yards (TD) on 7 catches in the Owls’ win over the UConn Huskies on November 20th. The Owls may take a bit of a step back upfront as one of their leaders in Matt Hennessey remains questionable for this game with an upper-body injury.
- No trends to report
- Owls are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Owls are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I will back the Owls in this instance as they have really proven throughout the season that they can do damage to opponents once they muster some momentum. As stated, the Owls are 3-1 straight up in their last four games (4-0 ATS), with their only loss being to the second-seeded team in the American Athletic Conference in the Cincinnati Bearcats. North Carolina also played well on both sides of the ball to get in this position and will certainly make this game interesting. In all, both these teams are as evenly matched as ever, however, I simply trust the Owls more as underdogs as they will keep this game close in the end. Temple is 4-2 against the spread as underdogs this year.
Prediction: Temple Owls +4.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I will strongly back the under for this contest. With two defenses that have really been getting after it to wrap up the season, I do not expect the offenses to run wild, by any means. Furthermore, three of the last four games for the Owls have resulted in the under while 3 of the last 5 for UNC has also trended towards the under. In all, look for the defense to dictate the pace of this game as it will be a grinding contest from start to finish.
Prediction: Under 52.5