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Bowl Predictions

Bowling: Picks + NFL Prospects

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome to Rotoworld’s 2015-2016 bowl preview series. Over the next several weeks, I will break down all 41 games with ATS predictions and Josh Norris will dissect one NFL prospect to watch in each and give you a few others to keep an eye on.

 

There is no correct strategy to handicapping bowl games. You'll find that I rely on a comparison of advanced statistical metrics, unit-on-unit mismatches, talent and coaching discrepancies, wagering data (Pros vs. Joes), a best guess of each team’s state of mind entering play and ATS trends. It is impossible to know exactly which teams will no-show in late December and which teams will play their best games of the year, but it’s possible to put your money where numbers and history indicate it will win slightly more than half the time. As a general rule, you want to take the points a bit more often than not. Underdogs went 25-14 ATS (64.1%) last year and are 174-159 ATS (52.2%) over the past 10 bowl seasons. 

 

 


NEW MEXICO BOWL: Arizona (6-6) -10 New Mexico (7-5)

Site: Albuquerque, N.M.

Date: Dec. 19

Time/TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN 

 

 

 

Straight Up: Arizona Wildcats 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 New Mexico Lobos

 

 



Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

That cruel mistress Fortuna rained fire down on a talented Wildcats roster all season, trashing any chance it had of contending in the Pac-12. Arizona will get All-American LB Scooby Wright -- limited to two games with a foot injury -- back for this one. Having reportedly decided to declare for the draft after the game, one wonders how aggressive the Tasmanian devil will play. We don’t yet know the statuses of WR Samajie Grant (head) or OL Freddie Tagaloa (knee). We do know that RB Nick Wilson is sitting with an undisclosed injury. This offense has labored to move the ball all year when Wilson is on the sideline. The good news is that QB Anu Solomon (head) has been cleared to return.

 

The Wildcats, losers of four of five, can't wait to turn the page on a lost season. You could say the opposite of the Lobos, who will finish with a winning record for the first time since 2007. The fighting Bob Davie’s knocked off Utah State, Boise State and Air Force during a torrid four-game stretch to close out the magical regular season. For that, they’ve been rewarded a home game against a badly wounded Power 5 big boy.

 

The Wildcats’ clearest path to the blowout win they'll need to cover is leveraging their aerial attack (No. 16 by S&P+) and passing-play explosiveness (No. 11) against New Mexico’s awful pass defense (No. 116) and susceptibility to big plays on passing downs (No. 121). Solomon made good strides as a passer this year when he was on the field. Backup Jerrard Randall is not a passing threat. Arizona bettors can torch their tickets if Solomon is knocked out again.

 

This spread reflects perception, not reality. The Lobos are no great shakes—in fact, as the No. 101-ranked S&P+ team, they’re arguably the worst team competing in the postseason—but neither are the Wildcats (No. 84). ESPN’s David Perdum reported two fascinating nuggets on Wednesday: 90 percent of bets had come in on the Wildcats as of Tuesday and the Lobos were one of only five teams that had attracted an early bet limit. When the public is banging one side and the sharps are firing away at the other, it’s best not to ask many questions. In conjunction with motivation, homefield advantage, health and the generous points, New Mexico is the obvious play.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

 

Arizona LB Scooby Wright III (#33) - The former Pac-12 defensive player of the year is on track to return from a right foot injury. That is on top of a torn left meniscus he had surgically repaired earlier in the season. This season’s games can basically be thrown out for Wright. Look back at 2014 to see what you are really getting. The 2014 contest against UCLA scares me a bit. Wright was not able to change direction or get outside and chase down ball carriers, leading me to think he will be more successful between the tackles where he is aggressive and physical. Those concerns do not mean Wright is “bad,” but it might mean he falls behind a number of linebackers in a stacked class at the position.

 

 

Other notable draft prospects: Arizona WR Cayleb Jones (#8) applied for an NFL Draft evaluation.




LAS VEGAS BOWL: Utah (9-3) -2.5 BYU (9-3)

Site: Las Vegas

Date: Dec. 19

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC 


 

 

Straight Up:  
Brigham Young Cougars
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Brigham Young Cougars

 

 




Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

 

With RB Devontae Booker out with a knee injury, it’s hard to picture how the Utes are going to have success attacking this underrated BYU defense. The Cougars’ biggest weakness is stopping the run (No. 77 by S&P+). Without Booker, the Utes will have to lean on the immortal QB Travis Wilson (13/10 TD/INT rate), who throws footballs like you skip rocks, to win the newest installment of the Holy War. He may be without WRs Britain Covey and Kenneth Scott.

 

Consider me dubious. While the Cougs are mediocre against the run (Utah RB Joe Williams will be a good DFS value if Booker is out), they are quite good against the pass. BYU has NFL-caliber pass rushers and a scheme predicted on creating havoc and forcing the issue. The Wilson vs. BYU pass defense matchup is heavily slanted in the direction of the underdog.

 

Utah has one of the nation’s best run defenses (No. 4 by S&P+). They hold up at the point of attack, periodically allow gains of two yards or less and rarely get gouged. In BYU HC Bronco Mendenhall’s last game (he’s leaving for Virginia), expect him to gamble on the better (by degrees) matchup of QB Tanner Mangum, WR Mitch Mathews and the No. 33 S&P+ passing attack against Utah’s No. 28 pass defense.

 

Utah was a hyper-conservative team even with Booker. With an offense ranked No. 126 in explosiveness by S&P+, the Utes will be in a world of trouble if they have to play from behind on Saturday. The Utes, a Playoff contender in the middle of the season who fell all the way to the first day of bowl games, better start quick.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

 

Utah RB Devontae Booker (#23) - The 23-year-old running back (24 before his first season in the NFL) has drawn comparisons to Matt Forte’s style of play in terms of rushing and receiving. The Utes ask Booker to run laterally then cut upfield once recognizing a lane. He looks his best when drifting to the edge to show off his speed. Booker has a tendency to bounce runs to the outside. One question evaluators will have is how much of Booker’s production and success can be attributed to a 23-year-old playing against athletes three or four years younger, and if those skills translate to the NFL as a primary ball carrier. He was knocked out for the season in November with a knee injury.

 

Other notable draft prospects: Utah DE Jason Fanaika (#94), Utah edge rusher Kylie Fitts (#11), Utah LB Jared Norris (#41), BYU DE Bronson Kaufusi (#90), BYU WR Mitch Mathews (#10).




CAMELLIA BOWL: Appalachian State (10-2) -8.5 Ohio (8-4)

Site: Montgomery, Ala.

Date: Dec. 19

Time/TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 


 

 

Straight Up:  
Appalachian State Mountaineers
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Ohio Bobcats

 

 




Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

 

As a function of working nights from home as a college football writer, I watch plenty of MACtion. As has been the case for several years now, the boring Bobcats failed the eye test over and over again but nevertheless kept games close and won eight of them. This is a testament to Frank Solich and staff’s ability to identify system fits and tailor game plans to mitigate talent deficiencies.

 

Ohio’s backs (A.J. Ouelette is the leader) aren’t special. They take what the line blocks for them. The quarterbacks—Derrius Vick and JD Sprague when Vick was hurt—aren’t gifted but are similarly coached to take what's given and avoid backbreaking mistakes. The line gets movement and the receivers are big, possession-types who move the chains (WRs Sebastian Smith and Jordan Reid and TE Keith Heitzman are all 6-foot-3 or taller). Appy State's secondary has holes, so if Vick can avoid future NFL DE Ronald Blair -- no small task --he's going to find open targets. Ohio plays quick and conservative, hoping to eventually wear you down.

 

The defense is middle-of-the-FBS-pack in sum, but does have a few specific strengths. In the same way that the offense’s biggest strength is reliably moving forward, advancing down the field bit by bit, the defense is built upon the conceit of keeping the ball in front of it and playing the run strong. Ohio consistently wins the field position game. It would be a surprise if they don't do so again.

 

Appalachian State, on the other hand, has enjoyed a talent advantage in most of its games this year. The Mountaineers rank No. 12 in the country in offensive yards per play and No. 13 in yards per play allowed. Ohio, it’s worth noting, is No. 59 on offense and No. 81 in defense in those metrics. ASU QB Taylor Lamb and RB Marcus Cox may be the two best players on the field Saturday. Both will return in 2016. The future is bright.

 

On the basis of talent, this line is fair. I'll take the points. I concede that I’ve seen much more of Ohio this year and may be succumbing to a sort of MAC bias, but this is the kind of team you want to back if you’re getting over a touchdown in bowl season. I consider Ohio a homeless man’s Iowa and Appy State a homeless man’s Clemson. Some of the time, superior talent is going to blow inferior talent off the field. More often, the superior coach is going to have figured out a way to ugly up the game to give his team a chance.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

 

Appalachian State DL Ronald Blair (#49) - I’m always on the lookout for “raw” defensive linemen who have a knack for disrupting with straight power and athleticism. That is Blair. He is asked to play almost every single technique (edge, 3 and even 1) and has positive plays from each spot. Blair lacks refinement in terms of anticipation or pressing to obtain backfield vision with enough time to shed and make a play on the ball. However, there might not be a position where sheer athleticism and aggression can result in more wins than defensive line, since it is typically a one on one matchup. I really like Blair, and think he will test very well.

 

Other notable draft prospects: None.




CURE BOWL: San Jose State (5-7) -3.5 Georgia State (6-6)

Site: Orlando, Fla.

Date: Dec. 19

Time/TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network 

 

 

 

Straight Up: Georgia State Panthers 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Georgia State Panthers

 

 



Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

Welcome to the Thrilled to Be Here Bowl. The Panthers barged into the postseason with a shocking 34-7 demolition of Georgia Southern as three-touchdown underdogs in the regular season finale. The Spartans, meanwhile, were the very last team to earn a bowl invite. They failed to reach the required six wins but had an APR score just high enough, with a dearth of automatic qualifiers, to edge out fellow 5-7 contenders Illinois and Rice.

 

The paragraph above undersells what may turn into a fun little matchup between contrasting styles. Georgia State is ambivalent towards the run (No. 117 in rush yards per game). Their leading rusher, Glen Smith, finished with 344 yards and is listed as a receiver. The Panthers can sure chuck it, though.

 

Nick Arbuckle is one of the nation’s most underrated quarterbacks, entering with 4,160 yards and a 26/11 TD/INT rate on 64.1 percent completions. Arbuckle’s favorite target is slippery freshman sensation WR Penny Hart (71-1,095-8 on 100 targets), while the 6-foot-3 Robert Davis (61-994-6) provides a box-out mismatch problem on the other side. Unfortunately, NFL prospect TE Joel Ruiz was lost for the season in October with a knee injury.

 

The Spartans throw better than the Panthers run, though they’ll abandon that particular facet of the game if they can. That’s because RB Tyler Ervin (1,469 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 5.6 YPC) is a beast and QB Kenny Potter is much more dangerous outside the pocket than in it.

 

What makes this matchup interesting is both defenses match up with the opposing offense’s strength about as well as you could hope. San Jose’s run defense is abysmal (No. 111 by S&P+), but that won’t matter here (GSU is No. 125).  Georgia State can’t stop the pass (No. 88), but that weakness also won’t get exposed (SJSU is No. 73 in S&P+ passing offense). Instead, this matchup will be decided by GSU’s passing offense (No. 42) against SJSU’s pass defense (No. 55) and SJSU’s running attack (No. 53) against GSU’s run defense (No. 38).

 

I like the underdog for four reasons: 1.) The Panthers acquit themselves well in the matchups that figure to decide the game. 2.) Both the Vegas rankings, published by ESPN, and S&P+ see Georgia State as slightly better overall. 3.) Georgia State won one game total over the past two years and are enjoying the special season of all special seasons; they have the motivational edge coming in, playing in their first-ever bowl game. 4.) GSU also has all the momentum, crashing bowl season by punking a heavily-favored rival for their fourth-straight win; SJSU has lost three of four and backed into the postseason about as sheepishly as a college football team can.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

San Jose State RB Tyler Ervin (#7) - Ervin, who earned both Senior Bowl and Shrine Game invites, looks similar to Andre Ellington. The two have the same narrow, veering style in the way they run, and Ervin is even split out as a receiver at times, like Ellington was. Speed in space is Ervin’s calling card, however, he can be effective between the tackles and shows patience on those runs.

 

Other notable draft prospects: Georgia State QB Nick Arbuckle (#4), Georgia State TE Joel Ruiz (injured).




NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Louisiana Tech (8-4) -2 Arkansas State (9-3)

Site: New Orleans

Date: Dec. 19

Time/TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN 



 

Straight Up:  
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

 

 



Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

 

Arkansas State’s modus operandi is to get to the line and snap quickly (No. 1 in possessions per game), keep the ball on the ground (No. 31 S&P+ run rank), win the turnover (+11) and field position games (No. 2 on offense, No. 9 on defense, per S&P+) and wear down your front so that in the second half you’re too dang tired to chase around shifty playmakers QB Fredi Knighten (5-foot-11) and RB Michael Gordon (5-foot-9) and change-of-pace jitterbugs RBs Warren Wand (5-foot-6) and Johnston White (5-foot-11).

 

This thinking-man’s up-tempo strategy works very well against teams of equal or lesser talent. Not surprisingly, Arkansas State went 9-0 against the Sun Belt and an FCS team. It does not work against superior talent, because the Red Wolves cannot convert third-and-longs or play from behind. In the three losses to USC, Missouri and Toledo, ASU was outscored by a combined 119-33 (a 39.6-11 average score).

 

Louisiana Tech will have the clear talent edge on Saturday. They match up particularly well with Arkansas State because of a tremendous defensive line led by potential first-round pick DT Vernon Butler (don’t sleep on frosh DE Jaylon Ferguson—six sacks and 14 TFL—either). The Bulldogs’ front has produced the No. 6 adjusted line yards score in the country, per S&P+.

 

Louisiana Tech’s defensive weakness is in the secondary (No. 94 S&P+ pass defense), which Arkansas State’s aerial attack is not equipped to attack (No. 82). The Red Wolves have no recourse but to go strength-on-strength with a defensive outfit boasting the No. 29 run stop grade in the land.

 

Apples to apples, the defenses are pretty close in overall quality (because of LTU’s shoddy secondary), though all-conference ASU DE Chris Stone is suspended because of a drug charge.

 

The Bulldogs’ biggest advantage comes on offense, where NFL prospects QB Jeff Driskel and RB Kenneth Dixon lead the No. 32 S&P+ attack. It's a nice bonus that the Bulldogs are the de facto home team in New Orleans. I see a double-digit LTU victory.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

 

Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon (#28) - There’s a chance Dixon emerges as the second running back selected this spring. That is how much I like Dixon’s game, and think others will too once diving in. Dixon has speed to make the most of yards blocked for him and can pick up yards after contact as well. Most point to Keenan Reynolds’ career touchdown mark, but Dixon is just a few behind him. Dixon will be at the Senior Bowl.

 

Other notable draft prospects: LaTech DT Vernon Butler (#9), QB Jeff Driskel (#6), Arkansas State TE Darion Griswold (#19).




MIAMI BEACH BOWL: Western Kentucky (11-2) -2.5 South Florida (8-4)

Site: Miami

Date: Dec. 21

Time/TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 



 

Straight Up:  
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

 

 




Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

 

These aesthetically pleasing teams both come in on heaters. Western Kentucky is riding a five-game winning streak and just stomped Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship Game. South Florida has won of seven of eight.

 

The Bulls, led by former Hilltopper HC Willie Taggart, righted the ship after an early three-game losing streak (including an ugly loss to lowly Maryland while Randy Edsall was still on the sidelines) by deciding upon an offensive identity. It features a legitimate top-20 rushing component with two fleet weapons in the backfield.

 

USF QB Quinton Flowers’ (969 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns on the ground and a 6.2 YPC average) feet make it impossible to simply key in on star RB Marlon Mack (1,273-8-6.7). Often seeing single coverage downfield as defenders snuck up, Flowers made tremendous strides as a passer, finishing the regular season with 2,017 yards and a 21/8 TD/INT rate on 60.9 percent completions. The Bulls’ offense (ranked No. 53 S&P+) and the Hilltoppers’ defense (No. 53) are close to a wash statistically. Western Kentucky is better against the run than the pass, which will help here.

 

The game will be decided when the other units are on the field. The Hilltoppers boast one of the nation’s best offenses, ranking No. 2 in both yards per play and points per possession. WKU QB Brandon Doughty (4,594 yards on 71.8 percent completions and 8.8 yards per attempt with a 45/7 TD/INT rate), NFL tight end (Tyler Higbee will be a game-time decision with a knee injury) and a four-deep stable of receivers get the headlines. Deservedly so. But don’t discount the Hilltoppers’ rushing attack, which ranked No. 26 in S&P+’s metrics (USF’s own vaunted attack is No. 19, for comparison sakes) despite losing stud RB Leon Allen to a season-ending injury early in the year. WKU turned to a thunder-and-lightning combo of D’Andre Ferby and Anthony Wales to replace him and the pair acquitted themselves well.

 

As Southern Miss found out, you’re not going to hold down WKU’s offense over the course of four quarters. If you don’t have LSU’s talent—and USF doesn’t—you have to hope the Hilltoppers are cold for one half and pray your offense plays its best game of the season to build a cushion for the inevitable comeback. The Bulls are playing well, have homefield advantage and have been played by the sharps all week, all factors that make me terrified to wager against them. I just can't get over the idea that they won’t have enough ammunition to fend off Doughty and crew when push comes to shove.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

 

WKU WR Taywan Taylor (#2) - Taylor really emerged this season in WKU’s super productive offense. The focal point of Taylor’s game is yards after the catch (an average of 9.1 this season). The receiver was only on the field for 53.5 percent of the school’s snaps this season and 53 percent of his catches were made between the numbers and less than 10 yards down the field. Those are projectable slot traits. Taylor only dropped two passes all season.

 

 

Other notable draft prospects: WKU TE Tyler Higbee (#82), QB Brandon Doughty (#12), WR Jared Dangerfield (#21), USF S Jamie Byrd (#2). 




FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: Utah State (6-6) -6.5 Akron (7-5)

Site: Boise, Idaho

Date: Dec. 22

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 


 

 

Straight Up: Utah State Aggies 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Akron Zips

 

 




Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

 

The number is totally fair, rendering the handicap something of a gut call: Can Akron’s putrid offense score enough to keep it close? Enough progress was shown during the four-game winning streak to close the season that I'm banking they can.

 

This game is going to be hell on the eyes. S&P+ ranks Akron’s offense No. 106 in the FBS and pegs Utah State’s own attack No. 63. Both squads were dragged to bowl eligibility by strong defenses; Akron’s is No. 40 and Utah State checks in at No. 31.

 

The Zips’ aforementioned baby-step strides on offense are tied to QB Thomas Woodson’s development. Woodson came into the year behind fringy NFL prospect Kyle Pohl. Pohl was terrible in early September and then got hurt in the middle of the month, giving Woodson a shot. Early returns weren’t promising, though backup quarterbacks typically don’t begin to play like starters until they’ve received sufficient first-team practice reps. During the four-game win streak in November, Woodson posted a 6/2 TD/INT rate. Whereas Pohl stayed in the pocket, Woodson is a dual-threat who has run for 621 yards on 5.7 yards per carry. His accuracy and decision-making are works in progress, but the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder is a load to bring down and is learning to leverage his physical gifts.

 

Beloved USU QB Chuckie Keeton is playing in his final collegiate game after suffering through another injury-plagued campaign. Mowing through bowl preview columns, I’ve read a handful of times that Utah State has a motivational edge because it will want to send Keeton out on top. This is a red herring sentiment standing in for thought. Did the other Aggie players not want to win, say, the opener? All their lives, have they been saving a special reserve of energy for the fateful day a kid they've never met named Chuckie played his last college game? Utah State itself doesn't believe the narrative: Keeton has not been assured of the start.

 

And that's smart. Because here’s the truth of the matter: Utah State’s offense is better with QB Kent Myers (1,470 yards, 14/3 TD/INT rate, 59.8 percent completions) behind center than Keeton (892-3-6-51.7) at this point. Myers has been cleared to return following a shoulder injury. I expect Keeton to get a symbolic start and Myers to receive more snaps in a timeshare. But that's just a hunch. Nothing has been announced.

 

As for the conceit of motivation, who do you figure is more motivated to throw the kitchen sink at the opponent here? Utah State, playing in the Potato Bowl for the third time in five years, or Akron, which hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2005 and whose seniors endured a 1-11 season in 2012? Progress requires momentum and Akron has the edge in that metric on both the macro and micro levels.

 

Draftniks will want to take this opportunity to get a first look at Akron WR Jerome Lane, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound converted LB/S who is the son of a former NBA player. He's rawer than a subterranean mixed tape but is already one of the country's most dangerous long ball threats. Lane reportedly has 4.4 wheels.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect:

 

 

Utah St edge Kyler Fackrell (#9) - Fackrell was a highly regarded prospect prior to the 2014 season, but an injury ended his redshirt junior campaign before it even began. Fackrell returned from that ACL injury this season but has been a bit overlooked by national media types. So, somewhat quietly, Fackrell has put together a great final season. The edge player could play a drop end role in an odd man front and seems to understand hand placement/balance to win his share of pass rushing attempts.

 

Other notable draft prospects: Akron WR Jerome Lane (#7), Akron LB Jatavis Brown (#1), USU LB Nick Vigil (#41), USU WR Hunter Sharp (#4)




BOCA RATON BOWL: Temple (10-3) -2 Toledo (9-2)

Site: Boca Raton, Fla.

Date: Dec. 22

Time/TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN 


 

 

Straight Up: Toledo Rockets 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Toledo Rockets

 

 



Thor Nystrom’s analysis:

 

This is a rich man's version of the Utah State-Akron matchup and figures to be far more entertaining. Temple's defense, ranked No. 14 by S&P+, is more celebrated nationally, but Toledo's defense is almost as good, checking in at No. 24. Toledo's unit is better against the run (No. 11) while Temple is superior against the pass (No. 16).

 

Opinions are split across the industry as to who the superior team is. The Vegas Power Rankings see the Owls as 5.5 points better, while ESPN's FPI and Bill Connelly's S&P+ metrics both grade Toledo as the superior team.

 

I prefer Toledo myself for a few reasons. First, the Rockets have a decided offensive advantage, ranking No. 40 nationally in passing yards per game and No. 25 in rushing yards per game (Temple is No. 73 and 80, respectively, in those categories). Toledo has one of the nation's best running backs in Kareem Hunt, a long-time prospect heartthrob of Josh's (see below). The school's offensive stats would be even better had Hunt not missed time earlier this season with a suspension and injuries. He's healthy and out of the dog house now and Toledo is tough to stop when he's 100 percent.

 

Second, Temple's offense bogs down when RB Jahad Thomas doesn't have room to work because QB P.J. Walker is a game manager who doesn't have the talent to test vertically or beat a defense by himself (he's completing 57 percent passes on 6.5 yards per attempt in a system tailor made to suit him). The Rockets don't have the national stars or surefire NFL prospects on defense that the Owls do, but they prevent running lanes from developing as well as any non-Power 5 school. That No. 11 run defense ranking comes with a No. 5 standing in run stuffs and a No. 2 grade in adjusted defensive line yards. The group also boasts the No. 11 first down S&P+ grade because it's so dang hard to move the ball on the ground against them. If Thomas can't get going, Temple will have a hard time scoring.

 

 

Josh Norris’ favorite prospect: Toledo RB Kareem Hunt (#3) - Hunt and Kenneth Dixon were the two running backs I seemed to be higher on than most before the season. Dixon continued on his upward trajectory, while Hunt was slowed by suspension and injury. Hunt’s explosiveness seemed limited once returning from the hamstring injury. Now, with more time to heal, Hunt faces one of the best defenses in the country. Temple uses a variety of different looks, alignments and personnel on defense. It should be a lot of fun.

 

 

Other notable draft prospects: Temple DL Matt Ioannidis (#9), Temple LB Tyler Matakevich (#8), Temple CB Tavon Young (#1), Toledo WR Alonzo Russell (#9).


 

 

***

 

 

2015 Bowl Record: Straight-Up: 0-0 (0%); Against the Spread: 0-0 (0%)

 

2015 Regular Season RecordStraight-Up: 94-48 (66.2%); Against the Spread: 67-72-3 (48.2%)

  

2014 RecordStraight-Up: 118-72 (62.1%); Against the Spread: 99-90-1 (52.4%)

Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!