WASHINGTON - The Temple football team will enter a bowl game with the chance to be the best team in school history for the second straight season.
Last year's 32-17 loss to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl ended the season at 10-4 as the Owls faded down the stretch, losing their final two games.
This year, Temple (10-3) takes a seven-game win streak into Tuesday's 3:30 p.m. Military Bowl against Wake Forest (6-6) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
In attempting to become the first Temple team to win 11 games, the Owls said they have a few things going for them, not the least of which is familiarity with the venue.
On Dec. 3, Temple beat host Navy, 34-10, in the American Athletic Conference championship game on a cold, windy day.
"I think it helps that we were just down there," interim head coach Ed Foley said of Annapolis. Foley will guide the team while new coach Geoff Collins observes.
Foley said the most difficult aspect of playing at Navy was dealing with the swirling winds.
"The adjustments we had to make with the wind, especially with special teams, that is going to be fresh in my mind," said Foley, who coached tight ends and special teams. "Especially special-teams wise, it could be somewhat of an advantage."
According to weather.com, the forecast is for the temperature to reach 61 degrees by 4 p.m., with winds out of the northwest at 7 mph and no precipitation.
Temple said another advantage is the physical presence it will bring against Wake Forest, which is making its first bowl appearance since 2011, when the Demon Deacons lost to Mississippi State, 23-17 in the Music City Bowl.
Wake Forest's biggest challenge will be scoring against Temple, which is eighth nationally among Football Bowl Subdivision schools in scoring defense, allowing 17.2 points per game.
"They are tough, physical, well-coached and fly around the football," said Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford. "They had some dudes. They have some athletes, and we realize they are a very good defense and very sound."
The same can be said for Wake Forest, allowing 21.3 points per game, which is 20th nationally. Senior linebacker Marquel Lee, who has 19 tackles for loss, is an NFL prospect.
The Demon Deacons have struggled on the other side of the ball. While Temple averages 32.8 points, Wake Forest averages just 19.3, which is 121st nationally.
"We are running the ball better. We are controlling the clock. We just aren't scoring as many points as I like," said Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, whose team lost its last three regular season games.
Wake Forest has a plus-8 turnover margin, and that averages out to plus-0.67 per game, which is 14th nationally and first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clawson says his team needs to do better in the red zone.
"Our red zone offense is 88 percent, but the touchdown percentage is under 50," said Clawson, who was Villanova's offensive coordinator from 1996 through 1998.
Temple's offense has been efficient, especially toward the end of the season. Quarterback Phillip Walker hasn't thrown an interception in his last three games. He has 20 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions this season.
The running game has been a major part of Temple's success. Senior Jahad Thomas and sophomore Ryquell Armstead have shared the load, and each has rushed for 918 yards this season. Thomas is also a threat out of the backfield with six touchdown receptions to go with his 13 touchdown runs. Armstead has averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns.
Temple is averaging 235.4 rushing yards during the seven-game win streak.
Thomas summed up the feeling of the seniors as they approach their final game.
"I am pretty excited and looking forward to it," Thomas said after Monday's Military Bowl banquet for both teams. "I am thrilled but also a little sad because this is the last one with these guys, and we're going to go out and give it all we got."