North Carolina vs Temple
When: 12:00 PM ET, Friday, December 27, 2019
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN STORYLINES
- North Carolina returns to a bowl game for the first time since 2016 when it takes on Temple in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md. Under the guidance of first-year coach Mack Brown, who previously led the Tar Heels to four bowl appearances in the 1990s, the team is looking to win a postseason game for the first time since 2013. “Our No. 1 goal when we returned last year was to send the seniors out the right way,” Brown said. “Everything we did, from spring practice to summer workouts to fall camp, was with an eye on winning enough games to get these seniors to a bowl game. Now, when this group looks back on their careers, they’ll be able to say they helped get the program on the right track and finished with a bowl game. I’m just so happy for everyone involved in our program, but especially, that group of young men.”
- The Owls are playing in a bowl game for the fifth straight season and are playing in the Military Bowl for the third time overall. They most recently played in the Military Bowl in 2016 when they were upended by Wake Forest, and they also lost to UCLA here in 2009 when it was known as the EagleBank Bowl. “I’ve really enjoyed my first season here at Temple and only wish that I can spend more time with this outstanding senior class,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “We want to try and send them off on the right note by being the first group in Temple history to win two bowl games.”
- Both teams closed the season in strong fashion with North Carolina winning its final two games to earn bowl eligibility and Temple wrapping up with three wins in its final four outings. The Tar Heels routed Mercer and North Carolina State by a combined score of 96-17 to close out the regular season and, after the win over the Wolfpack, Brown noted “they’re really happy in that dressing room.” The Owls rolled over Connecticut 49-17 in their regular-season finale, prompting senior linebacker Sam Franklin to beam, “These are memories that will last a lifetime.”
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: North Carolina -4.5
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (6-6): The Tar Heels rank 25th in the nation in passing yards (285.0) but only sit 198th nationally in scoring (31.4 points). Sam Howell has completed just over 60 percent of his passes with a nice ratio of 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions with Dyami Brown (11 TD catches) averaging 20.6 yards per reception. Chazz Surratt is a player to watch on defense as he has 110 tackles – 31 more than anyone else on the team – and he also paces the squad with six sacks.
ABOUT TEMPLE (8-4): Anthony Russo threw for 2,733 yards this season and enters the bowl game with 21 touchdowns, thanks in part to a dynamic trio of wide receivers. Jadan Blue leads the team with 87 catches and 975 yards, although his four touchdown catches actually rank fourth on the squad behind Branden Mack (56 catches, 886 yards, 7 TDs), Isaiah Wright (4, 442, 5) and Kenny Yeboah (19, 233, 5). Re’Mahn Davis ran for 105 yards against UConn – his second-highest total of the season – and enters with three straight games averaging at least 5.3 yards per carry, and he needs 100 yards on the ground to reach 1,000 for the year.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 39, Temple 33