by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
The line is saying something.
The gut just may not be listening.
Not for nothing, but that low spread supplied by Vegas in favor of Navy, basically the obligatory field goal of difference in deference to the home team, kinda hints that Temple is the pick. But, really, it means nothing right here at this point.
Except with thinking the odds-makers may have as little feel for this, the second annual American Athletic Conference football championship game, as the rest of us do.
Frankly, we’re talking zero vibes when it comes to tomorrow’s noontime tilt in Annapolis, Md. Neither pro or con ones exist for the host Midshipmen (9-2 overall, 7-1 AAC) or the Owls (9-3, 7-1). Well, not much of any.
Back for their second straight appearance in this affair, the Owls would figure to have an advantage. After all, they have experience playing on this stage. But, then, we’re talking Navy – which has a history of playing in bigger games than Temple, and actually winning some of them.
Even this season, you look at the ledgers and it’s kinda comical. The Middies beat then-No. 6 Houston at one point. The Owls haven’t faced an opponent that was ranked when they met (Penn State was unranked back in their September matchup) … until now, with Navy checking in at either 19 or 20, depending on which outlet you consider.
Navy is better offensively, although Temple is better balanced offensively. Temple is better defensively, but was exposed in its opener by an option attack from Army that pales in comparison to the one the Owls will face in this one.
The Middies’ most indispensable player is quarterback Will Worth, who has rushed for 1,181 yards, thrown for 1,363 and been responsible for 33 touchdowns. The Owls’ most indispensable player is defensive end Haason Reddick, who has registered 9.5 sacks and racked up a national-best 21.5 tackles for loss.
The teams had six common opponents, and both finished 5-1 against them. The twist there is that Temple lost to Memphis while Navy manhandled it, and Temple smoked South Florida while Navy fell to the Bulls.
The Middies have won four straight. The Owls have won six straight.
Navy has posted 40 or more points seven times this fall, including outbursts of 66 and 75. Temple has held opponents to 13 points or less six times, including three shutouts.
Navy ranks 11th in the country in scoring offense. Temple ranks 10th in the country in scoring defense.
Both teams have hot commodities for head coaches. Brigham Young wanted Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo and Missouri wanted Temple’s Matt Rhule in the offseason. Each opted to stay with their respective programs.
You wanna make a pick off those realities, be my guest. Too tough to call is the belief here.
Which should mean one thing – a great game that goes down to the wire.
Everyone wins then.