It’s the second year for the (Marmot) Boca Raton Bowl, and this year’s matchup certainly has some intriguing elements. Tuesday’s game pits No. 24 Temple (10-3, 7-1 American) against a former Top 25 member in the Toledo Rockets (9-2, 6-2 MAC).
The Rockets were actually in the Top 25 twice, but fell out after each one of their losses. Both came in MAC play, and were just enough to keep UT out of the MAC championship game. Temple, meanwhile, reached the American Athletic Conference game championship despite dropping a game to South Florida along the way. No. 19 Houston pulled out the title win over TU, 24-13.
In addition to bringing in two successful teams, the bowl game pits a current MAC member against a former MAC member. Temple was a football-only member from 2007-2011 and came relatively close to winning the MAC East crown in 2010. A pair of late-season losses proved costly.
Here’s more on game and its two teams . . .
WHERE: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET
WHO: Toledo Rockets vs No. 24 Temple Owls
ABOUT THE OWLS:
► Temple opened the season with a 27-10 win over Penn State and added six more victories before losing to No. 9 Notre Dame 24-20 before a raucus sellout crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls had a late lead in what was billed as the biggest football game in Temple history, but ND got a late score and stopped the Owls final drive with an interception.
► Including the Notre Dame loss, Temple went 3-3 over its last six games. One of the victories was against No. 21 Memphis.
► Defense has been a strong point for Temple in recent years, and the Owls finished 16th in scoring defense nationally. They allowed an average of just 19.2 ppg. TU was 21st against the run (126.15 ypg) and 39th against the pass (203.3 ypg).
► Temple ranked 52nd nationally in scoring offense (30.8 ppg). The Owls were 90th running the ball (153.62 ypg) and 72nd using the pass (215.5 ypg).
► The Owls gained 22 turnovers and lost 18 for a plus-4 net. (0.31 per game, 44thnationally).
► Junior Jahad Thomas (5-10, 188) is the Owls’ workhorse running back. He logged 268 carries for 1,257 net yards (4.7 ypc, 96.7 ypg) with 17 touchdowns via the rush and two more on receptions.
► Redshirt senior Robby Anderson (6-3, 190) owns 64 catches, good for 873 yards with seven TDs.
► Junior quarterback P.J. Walker (6-1, 200) has completed 56.9 percent of his passes. His 222 completions produced 2,736 yards and 19 TDs. Walker has thrown seven interceptions.
► Senior linebacker Tyler Matekevich is the Owls top stopper on defense. He has recorded 126 tackles, including 15.0 tfl and 4.5 sacks. He also leads the team with five interceptions. Sophomore corner has four picks, returning two for touchdowns.
► Sophomore place kicker Austin Jones convered 20 of 25 field goal attempts with a long of 41.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS:
► Toledo has scored at a 35.3 ppg clip, good for 26th nationally. The Rockets also rank 26th running the ball (213.18 ypg) and are 41st with the pass (250.1 ypg).
► The Rockets best scoring quarters are before halftime: 98 points in the first quarter and 126 in the second. Production drops to 90 and 64, respectively, in the final two stanzas.
► Junior Kareem Hunt (5-11, 225) and sophomore Terry Swanson (5-10, 202) key a potent running game. Hunt, who played in eight games, carried 163 times for 894 yards with 10 TDs. Swanson saw action in 10 contests, running the ball 132 times for 870 yards and seven touchdowns. As a team, the Rockets averaged 5.1 ypc, while opponents were a 3.3 ypc.
► Senior QB Phillip Ely completed 206 of 375 passes (54.9%) for 2,680 yards and 21 TDs against 10 interceptions.
► Three Rocket receivers have at least 33 catches: Corey Jones (52 catches, 535 yds, 4 TDs), Cody Thompson (33 catches, 706 yards, 4 TDs), Alonzo Russell (33 catches, 586 yards, 5 TDs).
► Like the Owls, Toledo has a pretty good defense. It ranks 23rd among all FBS teams in scoring defense, surrendering 21.1 ppg. UT is 10th against the run (115.55 ypg), but it is 107th against the pass (263.3 ypg).
► Place kicker Jameson Vest has converted 18 of 26 field goal attempts (69.2%), with a long of 44.
► Senior linebacker Chase Murdock leads UT with 78 tackles. DeJuan Rogers and Cheatham have registered 61 and 60 tackles, respectively. Senior defensive tackle Orion Jones leads the squad in sacks (6.0).