Temple football to face Duke in Independence Bowl

The Owls will play the Blue Devils for the first time in program history in pursuit of their second bowl win under coach Geoff Collins.

Coach Geoff Collins (left) celebrates the Owls' 57-7 win against Connecticut on Nov. 24 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Updated at 9:10 p.m. on Dec. 3 

Coach Geoff Collins consistently refreshed his Twitter feed during his recruiting trip on Sunday.

He and his Temple University football players anxiously awaited their bowl game and opponent, redshirt-senior fullback Rob Ritrovato said. At about 4:30 p.m., the Owls learned they will play Duke University in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Dec. 27.

The Independence Bowl will kick off at 1:30 p.m on ESPN. It will be the first matchup between Temple (8-4, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) and Duke (7-5, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the history of the two schools.

Temple is making its fourth straight bowl appearance and trying to win back-to-back bowls for the first time in program history. 

Last year, the Owls beat Florida International University in the Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Owls have won six of their past seven games ahead of the Independence Bowl. Temple will start ramping up its preparation for Duke at the end of the week, Collins said after Temple’s bowl announcement on Sunday. 

Both teams clinched bowl eligibility in their tenth game, but the Blue Devils enter the postseason having been outscored 94-13 in their final two games. Five of Duke’s seven wins came against teams playing in bowl games. Duke finished the season placing sixth in the ACC Coastal division.

Duke redshirt-junior quarterback Daniel Jones is “arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” Collins added.

Jones threw for 2,251 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is also a threat running the ball. He has gained 325 yards rushing and scored twice on 98 attempts this season.

The Blue Devils concede an average of 222.3 yards rushing per game. Temple senior running back Ryquell Armstead ranks 26nd in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,098 rush yards in 10 games.

The bowl will be a school-record fourth for graduate student defensive lineman Michael Dogbe and senior safety Delvon Randall. Dogbe and Randall will each play in their 54th games, the most of any player in program history.

Dogbe said he hopes to have instilled a “standard” of going to a bowl game every year during his career at Temple, he said.

“To go to four straight bowl games is a big testament to the hard work we’ve put in over the years,” Dogbe added. 

The Owls’ matchup with Duke will be their second bowl game against a Power Five school in that four-year span. The Owls lost to Wake Forest University, 34-26, at the Military Bowl in 2016.

Before the Owls won their bowl game last year, the team lost focus at times during the lull between the regular season and postseason play, Armstead said. In addition to playing in the Independence Bowl, players will participate in off-field activities, like a game-show style competition on Dec. 23. 

“Take advantage of the opportunities. It’s a whole month and a lot of people tend to lack off and not pay attention to the details,” Armstead added. “Take practice not as serious. My freshman year we were so excited to get there [that] half of it turned to a field day just having fun instead of locking in and perform at a high level.”

Temple’s players want the underclassmen to appreciate the opportunity of playing in a bowl game. 

“You just gotta have your medium where you’re having a good time, but at the same time it’s a business trip and you have to get the job done,” Armstead said. 


CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the number of bowl-eligible teams that Duke University had beaten this season. 

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