Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Temple Owls vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Date: Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium | Annapolis, Maryland
Best moment: The Owls’ 34-10 road rout of Navy was a fitting win for a team that enters bowl season on a seven-game win streak. Temple upset the favored Midshipmen by jumping out to a 21-0 lead early and never relenting, as it captured its first ever AAC title and won 10 games for the second-straight season.
Lowest moment: A season-opening 28-13 home loss to Army was not what Temple expected following a historic 10-4 season in 2015. Moreover, it was completely uncharacteristic of a team that would go on to win the American East division title for the second-straight season.
Key player: Senior quarterback Phillip Walker will be talked about for years to come in Philadelphia. The four-year starter became the first Temple player to reach the 10,000-yard mark for his career and has been a steady leader for this golden era of Owls football.
Motivation level: High. Temple has just two bowl wins in its history, and it will hope for a better showing than last year’s 32-17 loss to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. -- Matt Fortuna
Best moment: There were certainly a lot more high points this season than at any other time during Dave Clawson’s Wake Forest tenure, but the highest might have been Jessie Bates III’s 39-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter of a 27-20 win over Virginia. Wake was a resilient team all season, and this was the ultimate example.
Lowest moment: It would’ve been the biggest upset of the season in the ACC. Wake, a 35-point underdog, led Louisville 12-10 early in the fourth quarter … and then the bottom fell out. The Cardinals, who had trailed 12-0 at one point, dropped 34 points on Wake in the final frame, and what was once a near-miracle for the Deacons turned into a brutal 44-12 defeat.
Key player: Linebacker Marquel Lee is the foundation of a very good Wake defense. On the back end, Bates, Ryan Janvion and Brad Watson have done a solid job, and Duke Ejiofor has been a revelation as a pass-rusher. But it’s Lee in the middle who makes the whole system work. He finished the regular season with 98 tackles -- 19 for a loss -- and 7.5 sacks.
Motivation level: High. This was a watershed year for Wake Forest, which went from back-to-back three-win seasons to a bowl berth. But a 2-6 mark down the stretch left a bitter taste the Deacons will be eager to erase. For a team looking for ways to measure its success, a 7-6 campaign feels a whole lot different than 6-7. -- David M. Hale