The Temple Owls (8-4) are set to take on the Duke Blue Devils (7-5) in the 2018 Independence Bowl. Kickoff is set for 1:30 EST on Thursday, December 27th at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Oddsmakers opened up this game at Temple -3, but most books have jumped the line up to the Owls -3.5. The total for this contest is currently at 54.5 points.

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Independence Bowl Vegas Betting Preview: Temple vs Duke

Things didn’t look good early on for the Owls. Temple opened the season with back-to-back upset losses at home to Villanova and Buffalo. Then came a 35-14 win at Maryland as a 16-point dog and from there on this was a completely different team. The Owls went 8-2 over their final 10-games with their only losses being a 10-point defeat at BC and a 12-point loss at UCF.

Unfortunately for Temple, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson announced his intentions to retire after their bowl game and Owls head coach Geoff Collins was hired to take his place. Special teams coordinator Ed Foley will serve as the interim head coach for bowl. Foley also served as the interim in the 2016 Military Bowl after Matt Rhule left for Baylor. He’s hoping for a different result, as the No. 23 ranked Owls lost 34-26 to Wake Forest as a 12-point favorite. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will replace Foley as the new head coach after the bowl.

The Blue Devils didn’t quite have the breakout season a lot of people were calling for, as many thought Duke was going to be a legit threat in the Coastal with 15 starters back and a NFL caliber QB in Daniel Jones. It looked promising early on, as the Blue Devils started out 4-0, which included a 20-point win over a very good Army team and a 21-7 win at Northwestern, who played for the Big Ten title. They went just 3-5 the rest of the way and ended the year with an embarrassing 59-7 home loss to Wake Forest.

Duke will be headed to their 6th bowl game in 11 years under current head coach David Cutcliffe. After losing their first 3 bowl games under Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have won their last two, including a 35-14 blowout win as a 5-point favorite against Northern Illinois in last year’s Quick Lane Bowl.

2018 Independence Bowl Free Pick & Odds Predictions: Duke +3.5

After taking a closer look at this one, I’m going to leans towards grabbing the points with Duke. I just think the loss of head coach Geoff Collins will be too much for the Owls to overcome. Ed Foley, who will serve as the interim is way out-classed here by the Blue Devils David Cutcliffe. I just don’t think with Collins gone this team should be favored against a bowl team from the ACC. 

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One of the reasons I think Temple is getting a lot of love with this line, is the fact that Duke was outscored 94-13 in back-to-back blowout losses to Clemson and Wake Forest to end the year. They only lost by 29 on the road to the Tigers and were in that game early (down 14-6 at half). That’s a game they put everything into and with nothing to gain in the finale, they clearly didn’t come to play against the Demon Deacons.

I actually think that lopsided loss to Wake Forest will work in Duke’s favor here. Cutcliffe should have had his players full attention in the practices leading up this bowl game. On top of that, the Blue Devils are one of those teams that plays their best when they are the underdog. They are 47-34 in all games as a dog under Cutcliffe.

Duke is also an impressive 13-5 ATS in the 18 games under Cutcliffe when he’s got two or more weeks to prepare for an opponent. They are the same 13-5 ATS in road games when they enter having failed to cover 2 of their last 3 and an impressive 32-13 ATS in their last 45 non-conference games. Give me the Blue Devils +3.5!