Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs. Navy Midshipmen
Date: Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium | Fort Worth, Texas
Best moment: The Bulldogs lost to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA title game Saturday, but how about that first meeting with the Hilltoppers? Tech withstood a charge by WKU to win 55-52 after leading by 25 points midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Ryan Higgins threw for 454 yards in the Week 6 home victory.
Lowest moment: Tech blew a 20-point second-half lead in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in Week 4, falling to 1-3 after a 38-34 loss to Middle Tennessee. The silver lining? The Bulldogs then won seven straight games, but on the last Saturday of September, things looked bleak when Louisiana Tech couldn’t win while posting 622 yards of offense.
Key player: Undersized receiver Trent Taylor ranks among the national leaders in catches and yards. At 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds, Taylor weaves through defenses as the primary option for Higgins, who also connects regularly with prolific wideout Carlos Henderson. Taylor caught 17 balls for 210 yards in the aforementioned loss to Middle Tennessee.
Motivation level: Incentive to win is always high for the Bulldogs in the postseason. Louisiana Tech beat Illinois two years ago under coach Skip Holtz and closed the season with a victory over Arkansas State last season, playing well in both bowl games. The opportunity to win nine games for the fourth time in five years adds to Tech’s motivation in the Armed Forces Bowl. -- Mitch Sherman
Best moment: You can go with the Oct. 8 upset of then-No. 6 Houston, since that was the official announcement to the rest of the nation that Navy’s 2015 season wasn’t some kind of one-year wonder. Or you could go with the Nov. 5 win over rival Notre Dame, given how methodical the Midshipmen were in that 28-27 victory.
Lowest moment: A 28-14 loss at Air Force on Oct. 1 meant Navy did not control its destiny as it related to the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Sure enough, the Falcons later went on to beat Army and claim it for themselves.
Key player: Will Worth had a pleasantly surprising season after an early injury to expected starting quarterback Tago Smith. Worth hit the 1,000-yard mark as both a rusher and as a passer, orchestrating a Navy offense that posted 66 and 75 points, respectively, in its final two regular-season games.
Motivation level: High. Navy will be looking to win its fourth straight bowl game, something it has never done before. First things first, though: the annual season-ending tilt with Army on Dec. 10. -- Matt Fortuna