Temple vs Navy Odds, Picks: E.J. Warner Time in Annapolis?
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: E.J. Warner (Temple)
- After looking like it was turning the corner this year, Temple has dropped three straight games.
- Will the Owls bounce back on the road against Navy in Week 9 of the college football season?
- They may, and here's why Anthony Dabbundo is backing them against the spread.
Temple vs Navy Odds
Two struggling programs in the American Athletic Conference will meet in Maryland on Saturday as two-win Temple visits two-win Navy.
The Owls showed some early-season promise with a dominant win against UMass and a competitive loss to Rutgers, but consecutive uncompetitive defeats to UCF and Tulsa have the Owls near the basement of the conference standings.
Navy started the season terribly with a loss to FCS program Delaware and a blowout defeat to Memphis in the conference opener.
The Midshipmen represented well in their games since, with a victory against East Carolina in double overtime, close losses and covers against Air Force and SMU and a dominant victory against Tulsa.
The Owls and Midshipmen only have two common opponents on the schedule at this point in the season. Even though Navy dominated Tulsa and the Owls lost comfortably to Tulsa, the value in this matchup on Saturday still lies with Temple.
Programs like Navy — that run the triple option — have had major problems getting large margin to cover big spreads because of their play style. It's hard for them to separate because drives take so long and they lack explosiveness across the field.
I'm always going to look toward the dog when the spread is double digits and the total sits at just 40 points. Even though the Owls have lacked much juice the last two weeks, I'm backing them.
The strength of the Navy defense is up front, as teams have really struggled to run the ball against it. The Midshipmen are top-10 in Defensive Line Yards and top-25 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.
That doesn't really matter in this case because the Owls haven't been able to run the ball against anyone.
Rushing success is not how the Owls are going to move the ball, so they won't be missing much facing a Navy front that stuffs the run effectively.
The question is whether the Owls can move the ball through the air at all. The Navy defense ranks in the bottom 15 in the nation in Passing Success Rate Allowed and is pretty mediocre in terms of pass rush numbers.
Freshman quarterback E.J. Warner has some of the most drastic plays in the country when pressured versus when he's kept clean.
Warner has a serviceable passing grade in clean pockets (69.5) and an equal number of Big Time Throws to Turnover Worthy Plays. When he's pressured, his PFF grade drops to 35 with one Big Time Throw and seven Turnover Worthy Plays.
His yards per attempt drops by 1.7 yards, as well.
Keeping Warner clean in the pocket can give this offense life, and Navy is just 85th in pass rushing efficiency.
Navy should be able to find some success running the ball against this Owls front, but the Owls aren't exactly a sieve against the run either. Temple is 74th in Rushing EPA/play allowed and 49th in Defensive Success Rate Allowed against the run.
One reason why Navy could struggle is that the Owls are good at forcing defensive Havoc and negative plays. Temple is 16th in Havoc created and that means there should be some stuffs and tackles for loss against the triple option.
That's a problem for Navy because the Midshipmen are so bad in passing downs.
They rely on sustaining drives and staying ahead of the chains. When they don't, the Midshipmen are bottom 20 in the country in passing down EPA/play and Success Rate.
Another problem for Navy is that the Owls really tighten up defensively in the red zone. They don't let teams frequently turn yards and scoring opportunities into touchdowns.
Both offenses are outside the top 100 in Finishing Drives — hence the low total — and the Owls' defense is top 40 at preventing finished drives.
It's not an easy matchup for Navy to easily create the margin required to separate and cover a two-touchdown spread.
Temple vs Navy Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Temple and Navy match up statistically:
Temple Offense vs. Navy Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Navy Offense vs. Temple Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||118||78|
|Seconds per Play||25.3 (37)||28.0 (99)|
|Rush Rate||46.2% (109)||80.7% (3)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Temple vs Navy Betting Pick
Temple's offensive issues likely mean that Navy will dominate the time of possession and the ball control in this game. However, the Owls' defense grades out well in tackling and is good enough against the runs to force Navy into long drives.
The Midshipmen secondary isn't good enough to trust.
My colleague Stuckey has written at length about betting against service academies when laying double digits. If you faded every service academy since 2005, you'd win over 56% of the time, per our Action Labs database.
The Midshipmen have too many holes in the secondary and don't get enough pressure. It would only take Warner making one or two explosive plays for the Owls to cover this spread on the road.
Temple already faced a run-heavy attack earlier this season in UMass, and it was able to slow down that unit.
Navy is better than UMass, but is almost as one-dimensional with the third-highest rushing rate in the country.
Take the Owls with the points, but try to catch the 14 points as it is a key number here.