Armed Forces Bowl breakdown: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy
Navy (8-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-4)
Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. ET (ESPN)
• Reason to watch: Like teams that can move the ball on the ground? Well, two of the best in the country will be showcased in this game. The Midshipmen are bowl eligible for the fifth time in the last six seasons thanks to a triple-option attack that averages 322 rushing yards per game, second nationally to only Auburn. The Blue Raiders' offense isn't too shabby, either, averaging 208.3 rushing yards per game, 25th in the country. Neither team ranks among the top 75 in rushing defense, so expect both to score plenty of points.
• Keep an eye on: Navy's Keenan Reynolds. The sophomore has rushed for 29 touchdowns this year, a single-season FBS record for a quarterback. He had a hand in a whopping eight touchdowns -- rushing for seven and throwing for one -- in the Midshipmen's 58-52 triple-overtime win over San Jose State on Nov. 22. Middle Tennessee ended the season on a five-game winning streak thanks largely to the improvement of senior quarterback Logan Kilgore. He threw 10 touchdowns, with only three interceptions, over that stretch.
• Did you know: This will be the first time Navy has played in the Armed Forces Bowl. The other service academies have both made appearances; Air Force has played in the game a record four times. The Midshipmen's debut will make the Armed Forces Bowl the first bowl game to have featured all three service academies.
• Final analysis: The Blue Raiders' defense has forced 31 turnovers this season, fifth most in the FBS. But opportunities for such game-changing plays may be scarce against Navy, which only turned the ball over eight times all year, the fewest in the nation. The duo of Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley will pace Middle Tennessee's potent ground game, but if the Midshipmen continue to be smart with the ball, their offense may be too much to handle.
• The pick: Navy 35, Middle Tennessee 27