Both Toledo and Temple had bigger aspirations than playing in the Boca Raton Bowl on December 22, but some untimely losses landed both squads in what can only be described as a meaningless bowl game. The question of motivation looms large for Temple, who had its eyes set on a NY6 Bowl prior to losing in the AAC Championship game to Houston.
Motivation could also be an issue for Toledo, who recently watched its head coach depart for greener pastures (Matt Campbell was hired by Iowa State to be its new head coach). Campbell took five assistant coaches with him, but the Rockets maintained some continuity by naming offensive coordinator Jason Candle in charge for the Boca Raton Bowl.
I am going to assume that motivation is an issue for both teams, but Toledo is the better team from the line of scrimmage and is bowling for the second consecutive season. The Rockets are averaging 35.3 points and 464 total yards per game at 6.1 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.8 yards per play. Toledo possesses a powerful ground attack that is 0.5 yards per rush attempt better than average (5.1 yards per carry against teams that would combine to allow 4.6 yards per carry).
The issue is whether Toledo’s solid attack will have success moving the ball against an elite Temple stop unit that is 0.6 yards per play better than average (5.0 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.6 yards per play). The Rockets’ strength is their ground game, which happens to be the weakest aspect of Temple’s defense so I expect Candle to have a run-heavy game plan tonight.
Toledo also possesses a solid defense that is allowing 21.1 points and 379 total yards per game at 5.1 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yards per play. The Rockets’ front seven has been tremendous against the run, limiting a group of running backs who average 4.4 yards per carry to just 3.4 yards per rush attempt.
Meanwhile, Temple arrives in Boca Raton with a subpar offense that is 0.3 yards per play worse than average (5.3 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yards per play). Overall, Temple is 0.3 yards per play better than average overall from the line of scrimmage, while the Rockets are 0.7 yards per play better than average this season.
From a technical standpoint, bowl favorites that have not been in the postseason for three or more years are a money-burning 1-8 ATS when entering off an upset loss by eight or more points. Toledo is 11-2-2 ATS in its last fifteen games overall, including 3-0-1 ATS in its last four non-conference games and 5-2 ATS in its last seven games versus .501 or greater opposition.
With Temple standing at 1-10 ATS in its last eleven games versus MAC opposition (as a non-conference foe), take the points with Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl.