Three reasons why you should watch the Military Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
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Virginia (6-6) vs. Navy (6-6)
Date: Thursday, December 28th
Game Time: 1:30 pm
Venue: Navy-Marine Corps. Stadium, Annapolis, MD
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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 27 out of 39
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Military Bowl
– 2011. That’s the last time Virginia was in a bowl game. 2005. That was the last time Virginia won a bowl game. This is a program with just three wins since taking down Georgia in the 1995 Peach, and now, after coming into the season considered by many to be an almost sure-thing to struggle, this is a big, big deal for head coach Bronco Mendenhall and the school.
– You really think Navy will bring anything but the elite effort? The last time it played in this bowl in its home park, it beat Pitt in 2015, but it lost last year’s Armed Forces Bowl to Louisiana Tech. And this year’s team lost to Army. And to Houston. And to six teams in the last seven games. By the way, Virginia lost five of its last six – it’ll be a wee bit motivated, too.
– It’s exactly the appetizer you want on a big day full of bowls. There are four, and this won’t overlap with Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl – the Military will have things all to itself. It’ll be an efficient, quick, and clean game between two teams who know how to control the clock and don’t make a whole slew of mistakes.
Here’s Why Navy Will Win The Military Bowl
– Who’ll work at quarterback? It’s hard enough to deal with the Navy running game and try to prepare for it, but Virginia will have to get ready for both Zach Abey and Army game star Malcolm Perry. Both are 1,000-yard rushers, both are deadly in the open field, and both can handle the attack. Best of all, after being beaten up and bruised – missing time late in the season – Abey should be fresh.
– Virginia doesn’t have much of a rushing offense. Yeah, the Cavaliers have time to prepare for the Navy ground game, but the Midshipmen have time to prepare for the Virginia passing attack. There’s no real concern about anything the Cavs will do on the ground – they failed to hit the 100-yard mark in five of their last six games and didn’t score on the ground in four of their last five.
– Considering Navy doesn’t throw, the turnovers will almost certainly come down to whether or not the offense starts putting the ball on the ground. Navy only lost nine fumbles on the year and just one over the final five games. Virginia recovered two fumbles against Louisville, and one early on against UConn – and that’s it.
Here’s Why Virginia Will Win The Military Bowl
– Virginia already faced a phenomenal option team. The Cavalier D had just one week to prepare for Georgia Tech, and it allowed a pedestrian 220 yards in the team’s lone win over the last six games. This might not be a brick wall of a run defense – allowing 200 yards or more six times in the last ten games – but it won’t have to worry about …
– The Navy passing game. There really, really isn’t one, especially when Perry is under center. Only twice all season long have the Midshipmen completed more than four passes, and it lost those two games to UCF and Temple. Led by all-timers LB Micah Kiser and S Quin Blanding, this defense won’t be out of position with a month to get ready for what’s coming. Even if Navy hits on a big pass, it shouldn’t be a big deal.
– Kurt Benkert has been fantastic. The senior QB did exactly what the team needed, throwing for over 3,000 yards with 25 touchdown passes and eight picks – and staying healthy, to stabilize a shaky situation. There’s little to no Navy pass rush to worry about, and the Midshipman secondary just isn’t that great. Anyone who tried to throw this season didn’t have much of a problem.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Military Bowl
– It never, ever works out quite as easily as you might think, but there’s no real excuse for Virginia to lose this. They have the ACC talent, they have the veterans and the smarts to deal with the option, and they have a passing game to crank up the Navy secondary. As long as Benkert is okay, Virginia should be fine. The key word being should.
– Navy managed to lose a whole slew of close games. A loss is a loss is a loss, but with its style of play, games rarely get out of hand. In all, seven Midshipman games were decided by seven points or fewer. Even if Virginia dominates early on, this won’t get out of hand.
– Really, you need to see Kiser and Blanding. Among the best players at their respective positions for the last few seasons, now they finally get to have a little fun in the payoff. They made a whole lot of tackles and a whole lot of big plays for teams that lost a whole lot of games. They’ve earned this.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Military Bowl?
Everything looks easy until there’s that one missed tackle or that one player caught leaning the wrong way, and then a lighting-quick Navy runner rips off a massive dash.
However, the lack of a Navy pass rush and the mediocre secondary will be a problem. This game is on Benkert. As long as he’s hitting his third down throws and Virginia is controlling the game, there shouldn’t be a problem. If he’s struggling, Navy might just never give up the ball.
Virginia will win this, pulling away in the second half after seeing the Navy curveball a few times around the rotation.
Virginia 30, Navy 17
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Navy -1, o/u: 55
ATS Confidence: 4
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar
Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas
Military Bowl History, Results
Dec. 27, 2016 Wake Forest 34, Temple 26
Dec. 28, 2015 Navy 44 Pittsburgh 28
Dec. 27, 2014 Virginia Tech 33 Cincinnati 17
Dec. 27, 2013 Marshall 31 Maryland 20
Dec. 27, 2012 San Jose State 29 Bowling Green 20
Dec. 28, 2011 Toledo 42 Air Force 41
Dec. 29, 2010 Maryland 51 East Carolina 20
Dec. 29, 2009 UCLA 30 Temple 21
12, 20, 2008 Wake Forest 29 Navy 19