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Fight Hunger Bowl

Navy

vs.

Arizona State

12/29/12

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has one of the biggest spreads of any bowl game this season. Arizona State is sitting as 14.5-point favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook with an over/under sitting at around 56. The line makes sense, but that doesn't mean this can't be a close game.

Navy doesn't have many great wins, but they have two important road wins against Air Force and East Carolina, both of which are in bowl games. Then again, they also have big losses to Notre Dame, Penn State and were shutout by San Jose State at home. It's a common theme for the Midshipmen, they have trouble with teams that know how to play defense.

As for the Sun Devils, it's been hard to gauge where exactly their defense is at, considering they've played some of the best offense in the country in the Pac 12. Even then, they only allow 24 points per game on average. Unlike Navy, ASU only beat one bowl team and that was cross-state rival, Arizona. That was definitely their best win of the season and the positive thing about their losses is that they weren't huge blowouts. They lost to Oregon by 22, UCLA by two and Oregon State by 10. When playing weaker foes like Utah, California, Colorado and Washington State, they had no trouble winning.

The Midshipmen are a run-first, run-second type of team. That basically means they rarely pass the ball. Neither of their QBs has attempted 100 passes while they have three different rushers with over 100 carries. The triple-option is something new to Arizona State, but they will have a month to prepare for it. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds leads the attack and leads the team in rushing TDs with 10, to go with his eight passing TDs. Running backs Gee Gee Greene and Noah Copeland will get the rest of the touches. The two have combined for 260 rushes for 1,456 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Sun Devils have had trouble stopping the run this year, but again, Navy rarely throws the ball so this isn't a normal offense they've had to play against. Whether Navy can run the ball or not, ASU should be able to score plenty themselves. The Midshipmen only allowed 22.7 points per game through the season, but that mainly falls on their opponents. They gave up 30 points to Indiana and 41 to Troy to name a couple bad games.

ASU has a great running offense as well, but Taylor Kelly should not have any problems exploiting the Navy defense with his arm. In his first season as a starter, Kelly is looking just fine as Brock Osweiler's replacement. He is completing close to 66 percent of his passes for 2,772 yards and 25 TDs with only nine interceptions. Kelly can also move the ball on the ground with 435 rushing yards. The other main options in the backfield are Cameron Marshall, Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. All three of them have around 500 yards rushing along with a combined 18 rushing TDs. Foster and Grice are also two of Kelly's best options in the passing game as they each have close to 40 receptions and a combined 12 receiving TDs. If Navy wants to stay close, they'll need to start by stopping the ground game of the Sun Devils.

The only case we could make for Navy here would be a lack of motivation by Arizona State, or taking Navy Lightly. Otherwise, our model likes Arizona State by 20+ points and we agree. Navy is in off almost losing to Army, squeaking by, 17-13. Arizona State can out some points on the board. Navy won't be able to match them point for point in a shootout type game. No harm in waiting to see if you can get -14 or less here. For now, it's a solid -14.5 across the board so that's how we'll put this one out. Arizona State -14.5

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