The AAC championship Game is a surprise for a number of reasons. For starters, the hands-down favorite Houston, finished with three losses in Conference play. In its place is Navy, a team that lost its record-breaking quarterback, Keenan Reynolds. On the other side is Temple, who lost to Army in its opening Game. But here we are with the Midshipmen a -3 point home favorite.
Temple made it here last year, but couldn’t overcome a better Houston team. This season, it wouldn’t be surprising if the same thing happened. The AAC East is by far a lesser division than the West. Three teams in the East finished with one Conference win while only two teams had winning records. And that’s where Temple comes in as they also got the two worst teams in the West in cross-Conference play. OUtside of the home win over USF, the Owls don’t have a good win, losing at Memphis in their most difficult AAC contest.
The same can’t be said for Navy, who is still ranked in the AP Top 25. Of course, nothing has been easy for this team. The Midshipmen beat UConn, Tulane, Houston, Notre Dame and Tulsa all by seven points or less. The difference may be that no one in the Conference has stopped this Navy triple-option all season, piling up 42 points per Game. In their last two, they’ve gone for 141 points. Temple probably has the best defense in the conference, allowing 17.8 points per Game, but a lot of that was due to beating up on weaker teams. The Owls gave up 34 to Memphis and 30 to USF.
The Navy offense has been simply impossible to stop for AAC-level teams. Quarterback Will Worth has run rampant with 1,181 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season. To go with that, he hasn’t been miserable as a passer, which is always a bonus in the triple-option. Alongside him are a number of backs with the team averaging 6.0 yards per carry altogether.
The last time these teams played in 2014, Navy’s triple-option did just fine rushing for 487 yards. The question will be how many points the Owls can score. Their offense isn’t bad, but will this be another result that Navy squeaks by in?
Quarterback Phillip Walker has been slightly better in his senior season for Temple, but still isn’t doing anything groundbreaking. He does have a much higher yards per attempt rate, although has 12 INTs to go with 18 TDs. As usual, it’s the ground Game that makes this team go between Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead, who have combined for 25 rushing touchdowns.
But can this same offense show up on the road? Temple’s only road wins this season came against teams with a combined 6-18 AAC record. At home with the triple option, Navy gets the edge.
The Owls are 5-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, 24-8 ATS in their last 32 Conference Games and 10-1 ATS in their last 11 Games on fieldturf. The Midshipmen are 12-4-1 ATS in their last 17 Conference Games and 16-4-1 ATS in their last 21 Games on fieldturf. Temple has covered in six of the last eight meetings between these schools.
Our Pick – Navy -3