NAVY MIDSHIPMEN (8-4)
vs. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (7-5)
Fight Hunger Bowl - San Francisco, CA
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Arizona State -14.5, Total: 55.5
A pair of surging teams will clash on Saturday afternoon when Navy and Arizona take part in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
The Midshipmen are 7-1 SU (3-5 ATS) since October, while Arizona State has dropped four of six (SU and ATS), but with wins in each of its past two contests. Navy ranks sixth in the nation in rushing yards (285 YPG) thanks to the triple-option, while Arizona State's fast-paced offense directed by sophomore QB Taylor Kelly (267 total YPG, 25 TD, 9 INT) scores 36.4 points per game (3rd in Pac-12). Neither team is very successful in the postseason, as Navy is just 1-4 in bowl games since 2006 and Arizona State has lost six of its past eight bowls, including three in a row by a scoring margin of 22.3 PPG.
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Navy has been winning most of its games comfortably, but it had to come from behind to top rival Army 17-13 in its last game on Dec. 8. Navy has attempted just 160 passes this season (13.3 per game), but QB Keenan Reynolds was still able to throw for 884 yards, 8 TD and 1 INT. Reynolds would prefer to use his legs though, rushing for 588 yards in the past seven games and scoring his team-high 10th rushing TD of the season as the game-winner against Army. The Midshipmen ground game is also steered by RB Gee Gee Greene (team-high 765 rush yds) and FB Noah Copeland, who has 209 yards and 3 TD in his past two contests. Navy has to be concerned with ASU's potent passing offense, as it surrendered 705 passing yards combined to Troy and Texas State before facing run-heavy Army. For the season, Navy allows 23.5 PPG and 386 total YPG (226 passing, 161 rushing).
Arizona State also had a thrilling victory in its regular season finale on Nov. 23, erasing a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat rival Arizona 41-34. Taylor Kelly is a heady quarterback, throwing for 8.2 YPA (2nd in Pac-12), while completing 66% of his passes (3rd in conference). He also knows how to run with the football as one of four teammates that gained more than 400 yards on the ground. RB Marion Grice was the star in the win over Arizona, galloping for a career-high 156 yards and 3 TD, giving him 17 total TD this season. Kelly does a nice job spreading the wealth in the passing game as six different Sun Devils players have 300+ receiving yards. TE Chris Coyle is the main man with 53 grabs for 659 yards. The Midshipmen triple-option attack could be especially troublesome to an Arizona State defense giving up at least 200 rushing yards to four of its past six opponents. For the season, the Sun Devils allow a nearly equal number of yards in the air (179 YPG, 5.6 YPA) and on the ground (172 YPG, 4.1 YPC).