Middle Tennessee State and Navy take the field in this season's edition of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Monday at 11:45 a.m. ET (ESPN) in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s a quick preview:
What to watch: Navy’s rushing attack. The Midshipmen lead the FBS with 47 rushing touchdowns this season. They average 322 rushing yards per game, second only to Auburn’s 336 yards per game. Their option attack has torn apart defenses this season, and 10 different players have accounted for rushing touchdowns for Navy. However, the Middle Tennessee State rushing defense has only given up 186 rushing yards per game, and in its final three matchups, that number dropped to 116 yards per game. The Blue Raiders' top three linebackers -- T.T. Barber, Christian Henry and Stephen Roberts -- rank in the top four in tackles for MTSU and have combined for 16 tackles for losses and five sacks this season. With Navy’s obvious reliance on the rush, it should be a solid matchup in the trenches between these two teams.
Who to watch: Navy QB Keenan Reynolds. The sophomore, who hails from Tennessee and was overlooked by MTSU, has had himself quite a season. He broke Navy’s single-season rushing TD record (29) and was a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard passer. In the final six regular-season games, he averaged 214 total yards per game. In five of those six games, he accounted for a passing TD and scored 19 rushing touchdowns, including a seven-rushing touchdown performance (an FBS quarterback record) in a triple-overtime win against San Jose State.
Why to watch: It should be a fun ground-and-pound game. MTSU is back in a bowl after being passed over last season, and the Raiders’ five-game win streak gives them plenty of momentum against a Navy team that has a pretty tricky attack. And really, what else are you doing on your Monday lunch break?
Prediction: Navy 35, MTSU 24