(9-3, 7-5 ATS)
San Diego State Aztecs
(8-4, 8-4 ATS)
The Navy Midshipmen are back in a bowl game once again, and once again, they have their sights set on a finish in the Top 25 in the nation. On December 23rd, they’ll have at it in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against the San Diego State Aztecs, who are also trying their best to finish up the year with a spot in the Top 25.
The Middies came on strong at the end of the season, winning their final four games and going 3-1 ATS in that stretch. However, there are still some glaring weaknesses on this team that really could be exploited by a rock solid San Diego State club. Navy allowed at least 34 points in three straight games from the end of October through the middle of November, and though things regulated themselves, there is still cause for concern. Offensively, this was a team that did score at least 31 points in all of its last six games, but in the first half of the season, the Midshipmen only got there once, and that was against a very porous Louisiana Tech Bulldogs ‘D’. There were only four wins all season long against bowl teams, and only ended up being two others on the schedule in what proved to be a very weak year for the Academy, relatively speaking. This game wraps up the illustrious career of QB Ricky Dobbs, who continued the tradition of strong triple-option leaders for the Middies. He ran for 860 yards and 13 TDs on the campaign and threw for another 1,296 yards and 12 scores against five picks. Dobbs has a legitimate deep threat to throw to in the form of WR Greg Jones, who had 30 catches, 577 yards, and four TDs on the year.
However, the Aztecs, in spite of the fact that they had a worse record than Navy did, had far fewer flaws. Under new Head Coach Brady Hoke, this program has undergone a tremendous change in recent years, and though SDSU didn’t beat any of the big boys in the conference, narrow losses it wasn’t beaten by more than five points all year long, and there’s no shame in dropping by five points at the TCU Horned Frogs, the No. 3 team in the land. We might never know just how strong this offense is in relation to some of the best in the nation, but the Naval Academy really needs to look out here. QB Ryan Lindley has thrown for 3,554 yards on the campaign, and he has a pair of 1,000 yard receivers in WR DeMarco Sampson and WR Vincent Brown, who have combined for 17 of his 26 TDs on the year. RB Ronnie Hillman isn’t one to forget about either, as he rumbled for 1,304 yards and 14 TDs on the campaign.
It’s always hard to pick against the Midshipmen in a bowl game, but having three weeks or more to prepare for this offense usually helps matters out quite a bit. The Aztecs are one of the more underappreciated teams in the country, and you know that you’re getting a great game from them. They’ll take down the Poinsettia Bowl with ease and finish up a great campaign.
Poinsettia Bowl Free Pick: San Diego State Aztecs -4.5