Rematch of last season's AAC title game takes place in Philadelphia with the Midshipmen one win away from becoming bowl eligible
Navy and Temple squared off in Annapolis last season for the American Athletic Conference championship, but this will hardly be a rematch that lives up to the same kind of hype. While Navy remains a model of consistency with a 5-2 record as the Midshipmen make their first of two trips to Philadelphia (they'll be back for the Army-Navy Game), the Owls are struggling in their first season under new head coach Geoff Collins and are getting close to be on the brink of bowl elimination before the season is over.
Navy at Temple
Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Navy -8
Three Things to Watch
1. Navy goes for revenge
The circumstances and stakes may be completely different from last year's meeting for the AAC title, but that doesn't mean Navy will be looking to avenge a loss to the Owls last year on their home field. Temple roughed up the Midshipmen and knocked a couple of key players out of action on their way to a romp for the AAC crown. This year, Navy should fare better with a more productive and healthier running game that should wear down Temple's defense over four quarters.
2. Temple's drop-off against the run
When you go up against a team like Navy, you need to find a way to stop the run. Unfortunately for Temple, this has been one of the key areas they have really fallen off compared to last season. Temple had the conference's second-best run defense in 2016 after allowing 130.36 rushing yards per game and 17 touchdowns. This season, Temple is giving up 177.3 rushing yards per game and has already allowed 14 touchdowns on the ground.
3. Navy and Temple look to avoid heartbreak again
Zach Abey and Navy have had some time to lick their wounds from their last two games. The Midshipmen lost a tough one at Memphis in a key division matchup and followed that up by coming up just short of slowing down a high-powered UCF their last time out on Oct. 21. Now, with some extra time to prepare for their road game at Temple, Navy will hope to re-ignite their season as the Midshipmen not only look to get to a bowl game (they need just one more win), but perhaps make a late push back to the conference championship game. They'll need a little bit of help, but winning their final three conference games is the first goal and that begins Thursday in Philadelphia.
Temple's last game ended in heartbreaking fashion with Army stunning the Owls in the final seconds after losing a four-point game at home against UConn.
Navy's triple-option was able to be slowed down by an aggressive and athletic Temple defense last season, but the Midshipmen should manage to stick to their offensive style and create some problems for Temple. Zach Abey will be the star for Navy while Temple's Logan Marchi will try to take some shots through the air to find some matchups he can use to his advantage. Temple may be able to hang around, but this time the option will wear the Owls down en route to clinching bowl eligibility for the Midshipmen.
Prediction: Navy 31, Temple 20
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of Navy Athletics)