Defense To Carry Army Black Knights To Cover Spread vs. Temple Owls

Army Black Knights

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 4:48 PM GMT

Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016 4:48 PM GMT

Last year ended up being redemption for the Temple football program. The Owls have been to the lowest depths, found a way to survive and has learned to flourish in spite of incredible odds.

After years of losing and no attendance, the Big East booted Temple of out the conference. That lead to two years of being and independent, which only made matters worse (1-22 record), leaving some alumni to believe the school should drop football. However, they hooked up with the MAC, spent money and got better and when the Big East was desperate after losing members, Temple rejoined and was part of the group which matriculated into the AAC.

Temple won their division last season and though they lost the conference title tilt and a bowl game, they were back and finished 10-4. For coach Matt Ruhle, the present is maintaining a high level in an ever improving league and it starts on Friday, hosting the Army.


Live Odds For Army Black Knights vs Temple Owls


Owls Will Fly with Walker
It is not a coincidence, as P.J, Walker has improved as a quarterback, so has Temple's fortunes. Now a senior, the dual-threat quarterback knows the offense, his own limitations and wants to improve on 29.7 points per game average from last year. Having RB Jahad Thomas as returning first-team all-AAC performer adds continuity and the offensive line has four starters back.

On defense, the Owls lost tacking-machine Tyler Matakevich and lineman Matt Ioannidis. This means others along the defensive front seven have to grow and new leaders have to emerge. The secondary is the strongest aspect of this team, but for this contest, their role will be coming up and making tackles against Army's option offense.


Army's Offense Needs to Match Defense
Now officially know as - Army West Point - that does not change the fact the former Cadets, now Black Knights, are coming off 2-10 campaign and have had one winning season (2010) since 1997.

Coach Jeff Monken in his third year and has done a great job in upgrading the defense, which went from 91st to 47th in total defense in 2015. Eight starters return, including the sensational inside linebackers tandem of Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf. These two are continually disrupting plays and as two-year starters, they make a lot of tackles and are in opponents backfields creating negative plays.

On offense, Chris Carter is the best option at quarterback, being the better thrower, adding much-needed diversity to the Black Knights offense. The offensive line has to come off the ball quicker to help establish the fullback, a staple of this offense, and whoever carries the ball for coach Monken has to hit the hole quicker. If Army can set up third and shorts for Carter, senior receiver Edgar Poe is a tough matchup at 6'4, 215.


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Odds and Outcome
The college football odds  have Temple at -16 with a total of 46.5 for this 7:00 EDT tilt on CBS Sports Network. Those are both down considerably from opening forays of -19 and total of 51.

The last time Army and Temple opened a season against each other was 2008 with the Owls winning, 35-7 as touchdown favorites at West Point. However, Army has a veteran squad with 16 returning starters and has the defense to keep this one close. Temple does have the advantage of having extra time to prepare for an option, but the biggest key to the game is if Army does not put the ball on the ground like they did last year 38 times. If the Black Knights play a clean game, they are the right choice for college football picks. If they resume fumbling ways, Owls score on turnovers. Going to make a call the Army keeps this around 10-13 point setback.


Free College Football Picks: Army +16 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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