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Poinsettia Bowl Preview: Navy vs. San Diego State

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Preview: Navy vs. San Diego State

Thursday, December 23, 2010 8:00 PM ET ESPN

Laying the scene

Navy's triple option offense has produced some of the most prolific rushing attacks in the country in the last few seasons. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs and the Midshipmen rank fifth nationally in rushing offense this season, averaging 288.9 yards per game with 36 touchdowns. Dobbs leads the team with 860 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns with Alexander Teich next at 825 yards and five touchdowns. This marks the third Poinsettia Bowl for Navy in the past six seasons. They beat Colorado State in 2005 and lost to Utah in 2007.

Almost nobody outside of San Diego expected the Aztecs to have the type of season they have had in 2010, but here they are at 8-4 with a Poinsettia Bowl date with Navy looming. The game will be played on San Diego State's home field, seemingly giving them a distinct advantage over the Midshipmen who must travel across the country from Annapolis, Maryland for the game, although San Diego is the location of the largest naval base on the West Coast of the country, so the Midshipmen should have a few fans in the stands as well.

What Navy has to do to win

Avoid turning the ball over. In the win over Army on December 11, Dobbs threw an interception and fumbled the ball three times, losing all three of them. The Midshipmen still managed a 31-17 victory, but against a team with a markedly more productive offense than the Black Knights, opportunities to move the ball and put points on the board cannot be floundered by giving the ball away. San Diego State averages 35 points per game and has scored fewer than 30 points just four times this season, with three of those games coming in the first half of the season. They even managed 35 points against the nation's top defense in the five-point loss to TCU.

What San Diego State has to do to win

Mountain West Coach of the Year Brady Hoke plans on stopping the Midshipmen's fullback to stop the Navy rushing attack. "You have to stop the fullback," Hoke said according to "Either after the fake or when he has it, he's the one getting down the field cutting linebackers and alley players. You have to stop him." The Aztecs' rushing defense has played well this season with a few exceptions against the tougher ground games of TCU and Air Force's triple option.

Offensively, the Aztecs must continue to score points. Quarterback Ryan Lindley led all Mountain West passers with 3,554 yards this season and tied TCU's Andy Dalton with 26 touchdown passes. The offense has the firepower to hang with just about any offense in the country with Ronnie Hillman on the ground (1,304 yards, 14 TD) and Mountain West leading receivers Vincent Brown (1,187 yards, 9 TD) and DeMarco Sampson (1,175 yards, 8 TD) providing Lindley with a duo of excellent receivers.

The call

San Diego State. In a surprise of a season, the Aztecs field a very prolific offense and a tough rushing defense. It could be the perfect recipe for beating the Midshipmen who rely heavily on their ground game. Obviously, a big game out of Dobbs would be huge for Navy, but if the Aztecs D is able to do what Hoke hopes it can do and stop the Navy fullback as well as Dobbs, they'll come away with the win.

(Note: Rainstorms left the field at Qualcomm Stadium submerged Wednesday morning. Endless jokes about Navy playing in a pool of water commenced, although executive director of the Poinsettia Bowl Bruce Binkowski sought to quell concerns that the field would not be ready for the bowl game. "The field will be ready," Binkowski said. "The ground crew will be working all night long. There might be a few soft spots where water sunk in, but the field will be ready." Weather reports call for a chance of rain Wednesday night and partly cloudy skies Thursday.) - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

Email Danny at or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock

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