Reason to watch: There's a bit of irony in the Midshipmen owning the most exciting ground game in all of college football, but there's more truth in it than anything. Navy's triple-option attack averaged 288.9 yards per game this season, fifth best in the country. Senior quarterback Ricky Dobbs, the lynchpin of the offense, passed for 1,380 yards and gained 860 more on the ground while totaling 25 touchdowns. Focus in on Dobbs, though, and you'll get burned by speedy running back Gee Gee Greene (6.9 yards per carry) or bruising fullback Alexander Teich (6.0 ypc). All hands on deck, Aztecs.
Keep an eye on: San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley. The junior passed for 3,554 yards this season, sixth most in the nation. Lindley flourished in Brady Hoke's offense, delivering 25 touchdowns and turning seniors Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson into 1,000-yard receivers. The emergence of running back Ronnie Hillman, the Mountain West's Freshman of the Year, helped Lindley cut down on sacks and interceptions and raise his QB rating and completion percentage.
Did you know: The Aztecs will benefit from a distinct home-field advantage in their first postseason game since 1998, playing in front of their hometown fans at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
Final analysis: San Diego State holds home-field advantage, but is unlikely to hold Navy to anything short of an outstanding night on the ground. The Aztecs allowed an average of 181 rushing yards per game in their four losses and did not face a running attack of Navy's caliber. The Aztecs do own an explosive offense behind Lindley and Hillman, but Navy's ability to control the clock should keep SDSU off the field long enough to minimize the damage.
The pick: Navy 38, SDSU 24
SI.com NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline shares his thoughts on the top pro prospects in this matchup:
San Diego State: WR Vincent Brown -- Brown has been a consistent pass-catching force the past three seasons and one of the better receivers in the Mountain West Conference. He offers reliable hands, football intellect and the toughness to make difficult receptions over the middle. Brown is not a vertical threat but could stick on an NFL roster as a polished third receiver. Grade: Third-round prospect.
San Diego State: WR DeMarco Sampson -- Sampson was rated as a free agent coming into the season but turned in a career year and is now generating late-round consideration. He offers terrific size, which he uses to physically beat down defenders. Brown projects as a fifth receiver at the next level. Grade: Seventh-round prospect.
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