Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Pick – December 29th
Navy and Arizona State will square off in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in late December. Navy is coming off an emotional last-second victory over Army early this month. Arizona State won their final two games of the year, including a win over rival Arizona. The oddsmakers have made the Wildcats a big favorite in this one.
The Navy Midshipmen have a good thing going of late. This is Navy’s ninth bowl game in the last ten years. Navy has had a lot of success running the option. Navy was sixth in the nation in rushing yards this year, averaging 276 yards per game on the ground. Keenan Reynolds took over the starting quarterback job after the team’s first couple games. Reynolds is a talented freshman who runs the option well and makes great decisions with the football. Noah Copeland and Gee Gee Greene are the two leading rushers in the backfield for the Midshipmen. Navy averages 24.8 points per game.
Navy’s defense is quite a bit better than they were last season, which is why this team was able to go 8-4. The Midshipmen have been very solid against the pass, but they struggle against power running teams. In three of Navy’s last four games, they allowed 17 points or less. They haven’t faced many offenses as good as Arizona State, so this will be real test for the Navy defense.
Arizona State had a pretty good first season under Coach Todd Graham. Graham’s spread offense brought the team quite a bit of success in year one. Taylor Kelly did a great job picking up the offense quickly. Kelly completed 66% of his passes, and he had 25 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions on the year. Arizona State had four guys with at least 89 carries this year, so it is a running back by committee approach there. Five receivers had at least 33 catches, and depth at the wide receiver spot was a real strength for the Sun Devils this year. The Sun Devils averaged 36.4 points per game during the regular season.
Arizona State’s defense was surprisingly good this year. Not many people expected this unit to be an area of strength, but they definitely were. The secondary was exceptional in 2012. Opponents averaged only 178.8 yards per game through the air. Arizona State hasn’t faced an option team this year, so the big challenge for them will be preparing for Navy’s unique running game. Overall, the Sun Devils defense gave up 24 points per game this year.
Arizona State has played a much more difficult schedule than Navy. Navy’s option attack is never easy to slow down. I think both offenses will have success in this one. Neither defense is accustomed to playing against the unique offense they’ll be up against in this one. I like the over.
Arizona State 38 Navy 24