The University of Toledo began practice Friday in preparation for its game vs. Temple in the 2015 Marmot Boca Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. in Florida Atlantic University Stadium in Boca Raton.
The Rockets conducted practices over the weekend, will break for final exams this week, then resume practice upon arrival in Florida Friday, Dec. 18.Toledo (9-2, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) faces a tough challenge in No. 24 Temple (10-3, 7-1 American Athletic Conference). Head Coach Jason Candle is struck by the similarities between the Owls and his own squad. Both teams were ranked in the Top 25 for much of the 2015 season. Both teams had signature victories over Power Five schools, with Toledo winning at Arkansas and Temple knocking off Penn State at home. Sports Illustrated called it the best bowl game featuring two “Group of Five” opponents.
“Temple has had a tremendous season, very similar to our own,” Candle said. “They’ve been ranked in the Top 25 like ourselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to play a very good football team.”
Candle, who assumed the head coaching position Dec. 2 following the departure of Matt Campbell to Iowa State, will make his head coaching debut at the bowl.
The Rockets, co-champions of the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, were ranked in the Top 25 for six weeks this season, rising to No. 19 in the AP poll Oct. 18. UT defeated two teams from Power Five conferences in successive weeks, No. 18 Arkansas Sept. 12 and Iowa State Sept. 19.
Temple finished in first place in the East Division of the American Athletic Conference, losing in the league championship game to Houston, 24-13, Dec. 5. The Owls were ranked as high as No. 20 in the AP poll this season and are currently ranked No. 24 in all three polls.
Toledo leads the all-time series with Temple, 7-3, including a 1-1 record when the Owls were a member of the Mid-American Conference from 2007 to 2011. The two teams last faced in Philadelphia in 2011, a 36-13 Rocket victory.
UT’s players are excited about the prospect of playing a strong Temple squad. Toledo seniors have won 34 games over the past four years and are looking to end their careers with a bowl victory.
“We lost our last game [to Western Michigan], so we have a chip on our shoulder,” said senior defensive end Trent Voss. “Our seniors don’t want to go out like that. We are definitely looking forward to playing Temple. I’ve watched them play on TV, and you can tell they’re a tough team. They have a great backfield and a very good defense. It’s going to be an exciting game to watch.”
Senior quarterback Phillip Ely added, “Temple is very well coached. It’s a great matchup and something we are looking forward to.”
Candle said that despite playing in an attractive warm-weather destination, his team will be focused on one thing. “We’re not treating this as a vacation,” he said. “We’re going there to win a football game.”
Tickets for the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl — $40 for the general public and $15 for UT students — are on sale at the UT Athletic Ticket Office. Call 419.530.GOLD (4653).
Fans also can go to UTRockets.com to buy tickets and see details for the UT Alumni Association pregame party.