eToro: Buy Shares with 0% Commission

Your capital is at risk

Can Temple Improve on their 2015 Season?

For head coach Matt Rhule and the Temple Owls, the 2015 season was a fun and magical ride. The Owls finished the season 10-4, won the AAC East division, and went to their fifth bowl game (The Boca Raton Bowl) in school history.

With the 2015 senior class now gone and chasing their NFL dreams, it’s time for the new crop of Owls to lead the nest. How these new players perform will have a major impact on online college football odds. While the Owls will still have seniors quarterback P.J. Walker and running back Jahad Thomas leading them this new season, there are three deciding factors that will determine if Temple will have the success that they did in 2015.

1. Who steps up after the 2015 class? – The 2015 senior class for Temple was very decorated, and helped the Owls have a magical season. The 2015 squad featured linebacker Tyler Matakevich, defensive tackle Matt Ioannadis, and cornerback Tavon Young. Center Kyle Friend, and wide receivers Robby Anderson and Brandon Shippen stood out on the offensive side of the ball.

With those players off to the NFL, expect Walker and Thomas to be the main focal points on offense. Last year around this time, I wrote a story about how the Owls’ 2015 success would rest on the shoulders of Walker. Walker stepped up to the occasion and had a great season, passing for 2,972 yards, 19 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a completion percentage of 56.7. He also got the job done with his legs, running for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

Then you when take a look at his backfield mate in Jahad Thomas. Thomas put the nation on notice as one of the better running backs that no one talked about. Last season, Thomas rushed 1,262 yards on 276 carries, and had 17 touchdowns. He also had five games of 100 plus rushing yards.

A dark horse candidate on offense that may start to draw attention from opposing defenses is wide receiver Ventell Bryant. Bryant, the redshirt sophomore from Tampa, Florida, had 39 receptions for 579 yards, and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 target made his presence known in the Notre Dame game last season, where he had six catches for 91 yards. Bryant will be a huge target for P.J. Walker on the outside.

Before, I move to the second factor, I cannot forget about the defensive side of the ball, who lost a lot of NFL talent, but can be replaced. On the defensive line, look out for both Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike. Reddick had an excellent redshirt junior season, finishing with 13 tackles for loss (second behind Matakevich’s 15.5), 46 total tackles and five sacks. On the other hand, you have Martin-Oguike, who finished with nine tackles for loss and three sacks. Coach Rhule will be looking at both players specifically to be a factor on the defensive line.

While opposing offenses were afraid to throw to the side of Tavon Young, then sophomore defensive back Sean Chandler made them pay. Chandler intercepted opposing quarterbacks four times, along with returning two for touchdowns and had 10 pass deflections.

The pressure will be on both sides of the ball this season as they will be depending on newcomers to be in the spotlight.

2. Temple’s 2016 schedule is tougher than last year – In 2015, the Owls had the chance to play teams such as Notre Dame, Penn State, and Memphis all at the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field. This season, they will not have that same opportunity as they will have to take on both Penn State and Memphis on the road. Even though the Nittany Lions and Tigers will be ushering in new signal callers, it’s never easy to win on the road in college football.

The Owls witnessed that last season when they took on both SMU and South Florida on the road in back to back weeks. They beat SMU in a shootout 60-40, but lost to USF the following week by a 44-23 final score. This season, they face the same type of scheduling as they will take on Memphis on a Thursday night and then UCF that next Saturday.

Temple must handle their business on the road like they did last season, where they finished 5-2.

3. The AAC got stronger – The last deciding factor on if Temple will have the same success as they did in 2015 hinges on the American Athletic Conference, which looks like will be a fight to the finish. Temple does not play in an easy division at all. In fact their biggest threat might be the South Florida Bulls, who finished 8-5 and 6-2 in the division.

The Bulls have a lot of buzz surrounding them this offseason, and rightly so as they boast a high-powered offense led by running back Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers, noted by Joe Dexter of The Student Section. This season, the Owls will take on the Bulls at Lincoln Financial Field on October 21, and could have championship ramifications on the line.

In order for Temple to get into a New Year’s Day Bowl, they will have to go through the University of Houston. Head coach Tom Herman and quarterback Greg Ward Jr. did an outstanding job last season leading UH to a conference championship, and then defeating Florida State in the Peach Bowl.

If the Owls want to see themselves in a New Year’s Day bowl, then they have to avenge their demons from last year’s loss in the conference championship game.

Read next