NCAA Football
NCAA Football

2010 Poinsettia Bowl Preview: Navy vs. San Diego

| by Sports Nickel
December 23, 2010/8:00 pm Eastern
San Diego, California - Qualcomm Stadium

Navy Midshipmen


San Diego State Aztecs
(8-4/Mountain West)


This is another early bowl game that the ordinary college football fan will turn a blind eye too. But, this matchup should offer up some intriguing football. These teams play completely different styles of football.

 Navy runs the triple option and ranks 5th in the nation in rushing offense. On the other end, San Diego State prefers the vertical attack offensively and ranks 11th in the nation in passing offense.

 Navy has become a staple in bowl games the last few years. The Midshipmen have played in the postseason every year since 2003. They started the success under former head coach Paul Johnson and it has continued under Ken Niumatalolo. Navy ran through the regular season with a 9-3 record highlighted by another win over Notre Dame.

 San Diego State is a different case. While Navy has played in a bowl game for the last eight years, the Aztecs will be making their first appearance in the postseason since the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl. There wasn’t a whole lot expected of this team in the preseason, but they finished 8-4 and a respectable third in the Mountain West. They gave Missouri, TCU, and Utah everything they could handle in the regular season. This will be a virtual home game for the Aztecs.



  • Navy: Few players have accomplished as much in their college football careers as Navy QB Ricky Dobbs. Dobbs runs the triple option perfectly and last season he set the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a QB. The senior QB has rushed for 47 touchdowns in his collegiate career with 13 coming this season. Dobbs rushed for 860 yards this season and his play will be a huge factor for the Midshipmen. San Diego State’s defense hasn’t played well against the run this season, so Dobbs could have a big game. 
  • San Diego State: We all know about San Diego State’s ability to move the ball through the air, but their offense has been balanced this season thanks to strong running from RB Ronnie Hillman. Hillman rushed for 1304 yards this season averaging 5.6 yards per carry with 14 touchdown runs. Hillman went over 100 yards in five games this season with his crowning performance coming in San Diego State’s near upset of Missouri. Hillman rushed for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss. San Diego State can pass, but their offense is at its best when Hillman is able to provide balance on the ground. 


The key for both teams will be how they defend the other team’s strength. Navy ranks 5th in the nation in rushing offense, while San Diego State ranks 50th in rushing defense giving up 142 yards per game on the ground. San Diego State ranks 11th in the nation in passing offense while Navy ranks just 66th in the nation in passing defense giving up over 220 yards per game this season. Each team’s strength is an area of weakness for the other on the opposite side of the ball, so that should mean we are in for a fairly high scoring game. It could all end up coming down to which unit has the most success in stopping the other’s big offensive strength. If Navy can stymie the San Diego State pass, then they have a good shot at winning, but if the Aztecs can stifle the Midshipmen’s ground game, then they should walk out with their first bowl victory since 1969.

























































    Turnovers: These two teams are on complete different ends of the spectrum when it comes to turnover margin and it could decide the game. Navy ranks 21st in the nation in turnover margin at +8 while San Diego State ranks 101st with a -7. In games that pit teams that are very evenly matched, turnovers could go a long way in deciding the game. San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley threw 14 interceptions this season which ranks 80th in the nation. Lindley threw 9 touchdowns to 7 interceptions in the Aztecs four losses this season while throwing 17 touchdowns to 7 interceptions in their eight wins. If San Diego State wants to win this game, they can’t turn the ball over and give Navy more opportunities to put points on the board.


These teams both had successful seasons and this should be a great game. It’s not a prestigious bowl game, but this is an intriguing matchup that should be a very close game. It’s hard to pick a game that pits two teams that play contrasting style of football, because it will likely come down to which team is able to impose its will. The most comparable game was San Diego State’s 27-25 win over Air Force in the regular season and they defended the triple option pretty well. Navy lost 14-6 to Air Force in the regular season. I don’t feel like Navy’s defense will be able to slow down the Aztec offense led by a balanced attack of Lindley’s arm and Hillman’s legs. It should be a really good game, but I expect San Diego State to win close.

 PREDICTION: San Diego State 34, Navy 31

2010 Poinsettia Bowl Preview is a post originally from: - In Sports We Trust

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