Daniel Jones Totals 6 TD, Leads Duke to Independence Bowl Win over Temple

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 27, 2018

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones (17) passes against Temple during the first half of the Independence Bowl, an NCAA college football game in Shreveport, La., Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

In potentially the final game of his college career, Daniel Jones went out on a high note by leading Duke to a 56-27 win over Temple in the 2018 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Jones finished 30-of-41 for 423 yards passing with six total touchdowns (five passing) and two interceptions, leaving a significant impression on NFL scouts. He put up those numbers after sitting out one series in the first quarter when he injured his ankle. 

SI College Football @si_ncaafb

Duke QB Daniel Jones today: 25 of 34, 379 yards, four TDs, one INT NFL scouts today: https://t.co/otzIfy58LF https://t.co/KfqLViti4K

Temple entered the bowl game with the nation's seventh-ranked pass defense, allowing an average of 166.3 passing yards per game and 5.07 yards per attempt. 

All eyes were focused on Jones, especially in light of Justin Herbert's announcement he will return to Oregon for his senior season in 2019. The junior dazzled by setting one Independence Bowl record and tying an ACC mark: 

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Duke QB Daniel Jones has set the Independence Bowl record with 5 Pass TD. Jones has 6 TD responsible for today, tying Tajh Boyd in the 2014 Orange Bowl for most by an ACC player in a bowl game. Duke’s 56 points are also a school record for a bowl game. https://t.co/s84qhVvw1S

The Blue Devils quarterback has the potential to be the first player selected from the position if he declares. B/R's Matt Miller had Jones ranked as the No. 2 quarterback, behind Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, and No. 24 player overall on his most recent big board.

Even as Jones was lighting up Temple's defense, opinions about his potential as an NFL quarterback were all over the place:

Ian Wharton @NFLFilmStudy

I'll be starting the Daniel Jones thread shortly after (if) he declares, but the whopping 5 quarters I've seen of him so far doesn't scream anything more than developmental guy

Gil Brandt @Gil_Brandt

Daniel Jones looks like an NFL quarterback. #Duke

Jones didn't do much to help change those opinions early. After a 62-yard completion on the opening drive, he injured his ankle on the next drive.

Duke's offense had nine plays for five yards on its next two possessions, capped off when Jones was picked off by Linwood Crump. That turnover became a turning point for the Blue Devils, who scored touchdowns on each of their next seven possessions to blow open the game. 

Kevin McGuire @KevinOnCFB

We’re seeing just how much of a coaching mismatch it is between David Cutcliffe and Ed Foley in this second half. This should have been expected, but I’m stunned Temple is being destroyed like this since halftime.

Beyond Jones' individual success, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe capped off his best season since 2015 with an 8-5 record and has three wins in his last three bowl appearances. 

Soccer champion @JasonKirkSBN

David Cutcliffe now has half of Duke's all-time bowl wins

Wideout T.J. Rahming was on the receiving end of a lot of passes from Jones. The senior had two touchdowns on 12 receptions and set an Independence Bowl record with 240 receiving yards. 

Temple started the game at a disadvantage as star running back Ryquell Armstead sat out for undisclosed reasons, though he did suffer an ankle injury in the regular-season finale against Connecticut on Nov. 24. 

Armstead has 34 career rushing touchdowns and set a career high with 1,098 rushing yards and 13 scores in 2018. The Owls were held to 53 rushing yards on 29 carries without their senior star.

Temple also had to navigate this game without head coach Geoff Collins, who took the same job at Georgia Tech earlier this month. Interim coach Ed Foley had his team ready to go, but eventually Duke's talent steamrolled everything he attempted. 

As Jones mulls his future, Duke could face a rebuilding season in 2019. Cutcliffe may have to replace his starting quarterback and leading receiver (Rahming). He's kept the Blue Devils in postseason contention six times in the past seven seasons, giving the program hope. 

Temple is in a similar rebuilding position with Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz set to take over for Collins. The Owls have been a solid program with at least seven wins and making bowl appearances in each of the previous four seasons.