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Temple Football: 2018 Owls Preview and Prediction

Frank Nutile, Temple football

Frank Nutile, Temple football

The Temple Owls have 18 conference wins in the last three seasons, second most in the AAC. They made it to the title game in 2016, when they won their first championship in a half-century. This team won't be the favorite -- not in a division with the two Florida schools. The Owls also get Navy and Houston on the road in crossover games, and they go to Maryland and Boston College. So it won't be easy. Still, there seems to be enough in place to perhaps exceed last season's win total if everything breaks right.

Previewing Temple Football's Offense for 2018

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UConn Football/Athlon Sports 2018 College Football Preview

Frank Nutile took over at quarterback -- replacing Logan Marchi, who has transferred -- for the last six games a year ago. The Owls went 4-2 with Nutile as the starter, including their third bowl win in program history.

Ryquell Armstead is back after rushing for 604 yards last season, as is Jager Gardner, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4. Armstead was slowed by injuries as well. He's gained 1,714 career yards, with 21 touchdowns. David Hood led the team with 638 yards in 2017 but decided to retire following spring practice. Even with Hood out of the mix, Temple's ground game is in good shape with Armstead and Gardner leading the way.

Isaiah Wright is a big play waiting to happen. The team's leading receiver (46 catches), Wright produced touchdowns in five different ways (including passing for a TD), making him the sixth FBS player to accomplish that in the last decade.

The line is strong through the middle. Sophomore center Matt Hennessy was a Rimington Award finalist, and he's back up to 295 pounds after playing last season at only 260 due to an illness. Guard Jovahn Fair missed seven games with a shoulder injury but should be ready to go this season.

Previewing Temple Football's Defense for 2018

The Owls have to replace two NFL-caliber ends. But tackle Michael Dogbe is a freakish athlete for a guy his size (6'3", 280).

Middle linebacker Shaun Bradley had a team-best 85 tackles, 10 for a loss. Strong-side backer Sam Franklin has also played end and cornerback, sometimes in the same game.

The secondary has to replace three starters, including three-time all-conference selection Sean Chandler. But safety Delvon Randall, another first-team all-conference performer, had four interceptions in each of the past two seasons. Senior transfer Rock Ya-Sin comes to North Broad Street from FCS Presbyterian College. He had 24 starts at Presbyterian, with 95 tackles and five picks.

Previewing Temple Football's Specialists for 2018

Aaron Boumerhi has made 30-of-40 field goal attempts, with a long of 52, since inheriting the job as a freshman in 2016. The Owls will have a different punter for the first time since 2014 now that Alex Starzyk has exhausted his eligibility. Wright averaged 8.4 yards on 11 punt returns and 24.9 on 13 kickoff returns, including one of 98 yards.

Final Analysis

Former Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins took over from good friend Matt Rhule, who left for Baylor after putting together back-to-back 10-win seasons -- at a program that had one double-digit win season in its history. In Collins' debut season as a head coach, he had to replace a four-year starting quarterback. In the first eight games, the Owls lost at Notre Dame, at South Florida, to Houston and in overtime at Army. Their only blemish the rest of the way was a loss to UCF. That's something to build on. The Owls just can't afford to lose any games that they probably shouldn't, like they did last year against 3-9 Connecticut in South Philly. This is Collins' team now. Expect Year 2 to be another step in the right direction.

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(Top photo courtesy of Temple Football's Facebook page)