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Eagle Bank Bowl
UCLA vs. Temple
Sportsbook.com Line UCLA -4.5 O/U 45
No that is not a misprint, Temple is actually in a Bowl Game. After starting
their season 0-2 including a loss to Villanova Temple won 9 games in a row
before losing their final game to Ohio. Head Coach Al Golden has done a great
job since taking over. This is Temple’s first winning season since 1990, and if
they can win this bowl game over UCLA it will be Temple’s first 10 win season
since 1979. Golden interviewed for the UCLA job back when the opening came up,
but the Bruins decided to go with Rick Neuheisel instead.
Since Neuheisel has taken over he has gone 4-8 in his first year and now 6-6 this year, barely squeaking in to a bowl game. The Bruins started the year out 3-0 with wins over Tennessee and Kansas State, but things started to slide after that. They followed that start up with 5 straight losses. They were able to win 3 out of their last 4 games to become bowl eligible, but against the top end Pac 10 teams UCLA struggled. Things need to start going in the right direction for Neuheisel and the Bruins if they are going to be able to turn this thing around, and a bowl win would be a good start.
UCLA’s offense has struggled for most of the year, so their defense has had to step up and play big in key situations. The Bruin’s are ranked 3rd in scoring defense allowing 21 points a game and are 4th in total defense allowing 338 yards a game. Where this game is going to be decided is in the trenches. Temple likes to pound the ball on the ground with RB Bernard Pierce. Pierce has rushed for over 1300 yards on the year and 15 TDs. He leads the MAC in rushing TDs, rushing yards per game, and total yards. UCLA might have a solid defense, but the weakness of their defense is rush defense.
The Bruins are ranked 7th in the Pac 10 in rush defense allowing 145 yards per game on the ground. If those trends continue UCLA will have a very hard time slowing down Pierce. The one positive for the Bruins is they have a very stout secondary that should be able to stop Temple’s weak passing game which will allow them to use more players to stack the box to try and slow down Pierce.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Temple is a tough team to figure out. They lost their opener to Villanova then go on a 9 game winning streak. It is always tough to compare the toughness of competition with a team from the MAC compared to a team in the Pac 10. Is that enough to put UCLA over the top even though they have struggled for most of the year? Or is the MAC better then people give them credit for and this Temple team is much better then people give them credit for?
The fact that the line favors UCLA by 4 points says that people have more faith in a bad Pac 10 team then a good MAC team which is probably correct in most cases, but we are not so sure this is one of those cases. Not only does Temple have a solid offense led by RB Bernard Pierce they also have a solid defense to go with it. Temple is ranked 1st in the MAC in rush defense only allowing 108 yards a game on the ground which will force UCLA QB Kevin Prince to have to make some big plays in key situations.
There is very little doubt that UCLA is the more talented team. They have the better athletes. They will always recruit better than a team like Temple. They play a much tougher schedule than Temple does and likely are better at each and every position on both sides of the ball. However, this is just one game. With the right game plan, and the proper motivation, anything can happen.
For the kids from Temple, this is like playing in the Super Bowl. The only thing missing is being able to play the game in a warm weather location. This game is in Washington DC!!!
This is a chance for the Temple kids to prove they can play on the same level as a team like UCLA. Many of these kids were passed over for scholarships to the big time schools and ended up being "stuck" going to Temple. On the UCLA side, they surely had bigger plans when the season started. Instead they end up as a .500 team, traveling across the country to play a team they will likely take lightly, and have no interest in playing, and will freeze their a#@ off to boot.
In this type of a set up, we like to take a good look at playing the underdog in the 1st quarter and the 1st half. If the motivation and adrenaline is all that keeps this close for awhile, the 1st quarter and 1st half is when it will pay off. We're not saying Temple can't pull off the upset and win the game, but if we are correct on the motivational angle, we have a better chance of collecting in the 1st half and 1st quarter.
So we'll make 3 recommendations here.
Temple +2.5 or better 1st half
Temple pk +115 1st quarter
Temple +4.5 for the game
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