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Navy meets Middle Tennessee on Monday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 12/30/2013  at  4:27:00 AM
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MIDDLE TENNESSEE BLUE RAIDERS (8-4)
vs. NAVY MIDSHIPMEN (8-4)

Armed Forces Bowl
Amon G. Carter Stadium Ė Fort Worth, TX
Kickoff: Monday, 11.45 a.m. ET
Line: Navy -6.5, Total: 56.5

Middle Tennessee and Navy meet in Monday's Armed Forces Bowl as each program attempts to win its first bowl game since 2009.

The Blue Raiders put together their best season since 2007 thanks to a strong rushing attack, and finished third in the Eastern Division of the C-USA conference. They had a five-game winning streak to finish off the season and won their final three games by an average of 33.3 PPG. Middle Tennessee has played in three bowl games since 2006, going 1-2 SU and ATS while losing its most recent bowl, a 35-21 defeat in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Miami (OH) in 2011. The Midshipmen once again were among the top teams in the nation at running the ball with their option offense and also finished the season off in strong fashion, winning their last four contests. Navy had a big win on Nov. 22 when it defeated San Jose State on the road in triple overtime by a score of 58-52, and ran for 432 yards with Navy QB Keenan Reynolds running for an NCAA record seven touchdowns. Navy has had little success in bowl games recently though, with a 1-3 SU and ATS record since 2008 while suffering an embarrassing 62-28 loss against Arizona State in the Fight Hunger bowl last season. This game will mark the first time that these two programs have met in their history. The Blue Raiders are 14-4 ATS (78%) after allowing 125 or less passing yards in their last game since 1992, while the Midshipmen are 71-36 (66%) against non-conference opponents since 1992. There are no significant injuries on either side for this game.

Can Navy win by at least a touchdown? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts finished the regular season a collective 51.1% ATS (120-115-7) on college football Best Bets, led by StatFox Dave's stellar 57% ATS (35-25-2) mark. This included a 64% ATS (23-13-2) record in his final 11 weeks. StatFox Gary was 2-1 ATS in the final week to finish 53% ATS (21-19-1) in the regular season. Gary was 56% ATS (20-16-1) in college football Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Brian also finished strong with a 3-1 ATS mark on Best Bets in Championship Week, giving him his fourth straight winning season of college football Best Bets at 52% ATS (33-30-1). StatFox Scott is looking to repeat a huge 2012-13 bowl season, when he posted a 71% ATS mark in Best Bets (5-2-1).

Middle Tennessee rushed the ball for more yards on the season than they did passing it. The team ranked 25th in the nation with 208.3 YPG on the ground thanks to multiple contributions from their running game. Their leading rusher on the season was HB Jordan Parker who ran for 741 yards (5.1 YPC) and scored six rushing touchdowns. He missed two games towards the end of the season and ran the ball only nine times in the teamís final two games, but managed 88 yards (9.8 YPC) and a touchdown in that time. Joining Parker in the backfield is HB Reggie Whatley (631 rushing yards, 6.8 YPC, 3 TD) who had only 10+ attempts in five games on the season, but ran for more than 100 yards in three games. QB Logan Kilgore threw for 2,289 yards (7.1 YPA) and 16 touchdowns, but struggled with turnovers (11 interceptions). He is coming off a season-high 325-yard passing game where he threw two touchdowns and an interception in a winning effort against UTEP. The trio of WRs Tavarres Jefferson (532 yards), Marcus Henry (528 yards) and Kyle Griswould (359 yards) combined to catch more than half of the passes on the year (52%) and 12 of the 17 receiving touchdowns. LB Stephen Roberts (60 tackles, 2 INT) and the Blue Raiders held their opponents to 26.4 PPG and only 14.8 PPG over their last four regular-season contests.

Navy once again used its option offense to beat teams by running the ball, finishing the season with 322.0 YPG on the ground (2nd in the nation) while being near the bottom in passing yards (91.5 YPG, 122nd in the nation). QB Keenan Reynolds was the teamís leading rusher with 1,260 yards (4.5 YPC) and ranks second in the nation with 29 rushing touchdowns. He put up huge games over the team's past four contests, averaging 165.3 YPG on the ground and totaling 15 touchdowns, including a record-breaking, seven-touchdown rushing performance against San Jose State on Nov. 22. While Reynolds did not throw often, he made the most of his attempts, throwing for 1,038 yards (8.6 YPA) and eight touchdowns while keeping turnovers to a minimum with only two interceptions. After Reynolds, the Midshipmen had seven different players who rushed for between 250 and 400 yards while totaling 14 rushing touchdowns between them. Navy had only two wide receivers that totaled more than 10 receptions on the year. WR DeBrandon Sanders had 12 receptions for 217 yards (18.1 avg.) and one touchdown, while WR Casey Bolena totaled 13 receptions for 164 yards (12.6 avg.) with none going for a score. LB Cody Peterson (135 tackles) led the defense, which allowed opponents to score 25.9 PPG on the season, including holding their rivals, Army, to seven points in the final game of the season.

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