The Midshipmen defeated the Owls, 33-27, in overtime last season.
As promised, last weekend’s game was a shootout. The Owls put up a season-high 40 points and beat Toledo, 40-24, Saturday night in Ohio. The win gave the Owls their fifth straight win and improved their record to 4-0 in the Mid-American Conference. Temple travels to Navy this Saturday to face the Midshipmen, who are riding their own five-game winning streak. One team’s streak will end, while the other’s will increase to six consecutive wins. Here are three things to watch for from each team:
Here to talk about the past: The Owls return to Annapolis, Md., in hopes of exacting revenge for last year’s heartbreaking loss. Temple held a 27-7 lead in the fourth quarter but watched its lead vanish when sophomore running back Kee-ayre Griffin fumbled on a third-and-11 play and Navy returned the turnover for a touchdown. The Midshipmen eventually won the game in overtime to complete the shocking comeback. The loss cost the Owls a 6-6 finish to the season. A win this Saturday would be the Owls’ sixth victory of the season with four games remaining.
Picking up where he left off: After leaving Temple’s 27-13 Homecoming win against Army with a left shoulder injury, freshman running back Bernard Pierce returned last weekend and rushed for three touchdowns and 212 yards. He already has four 100-plus yard rushing games for his career. It’s safe to say that Pierce is not experiencing any lingering issues with his shoulder, a major relief for the Owls’ offense.
On the defensive: The Temple defense, which ranks 15th in the nation in turnovers, forced three more against Toledo’s top-ranked MAC offense. Navy does a good job protecting the ball and has only seven turnovers this season. If the Owls can force a few turnovers, they will have a strong advantage for their sixth straight victory.
Riding high: The Midshipmen welcome the Owls riding a five-game winning streak. Navy, which sits at 6-2, slipped past Wake Forest, 13-10, last Saturday. The Midshipmen’s only two losses came at the hands of No. 17 Ohio State and No. 16 Pittsburgh. Navy has a manageable schedule after the game against Temple, as the Midshipmen face teams that currently have a combined 15-13 record.
Ground control: Like their military brethren, Army, Navy likes to control the game by pounding the ball. In their win against Wake Forest, the Midshipmen did not throw a single pass. They ran the ball on all 64 offensive plays for 338 yards. The ground attack, which ranks fifth in the nation, is led by junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who averages 84 yards rushing a game and has 16 touchdowns in eight games.
Who will start at quarterback?: The Midshipmen were without their lead rusher Dobbs last weekend against Wake Forest. Dobbs, who missed the game because of a left knee injury, was replaced by sophomore quarterback Kriss Proctor, who rushed for 89 yards in his first collegiate start. It’s unknown who will start behind center against Temple, but expect minimal passing from the Navy offense regardless.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.