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Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Another College Bowl game, another drinking game and another preview by James Jack, @materialista27. Read more of his work on his dedicated College Bowl site.

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Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Saturday December 29th, 13:00 PT (21:00 GMT)
AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
Navy Midshipmen vs. Arizona State Sun Devils


The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is played annually at AT&T Park, home of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. It was created as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl in 2002. As of 2010, the bowl is sponsored by Kraft Foods you may know them from such brands as Dairylea, Vegemite and Kool-Aid. In November this year Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl officials and the San Francisco 49ers announced the bowl game will move to the new $1.5bn, 75,000 seater Santa Clara Stadium in Silicon Valley in 2014. The game is one of three college bowl games played in baseball-specific stadiums, alongside the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field, and the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Because AT&T Park is not normally used for football, the arrangement of the playing field requires both teams to be on the same sideline, separated by a barrier at the 50-yard line. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has a contract to host the PAC-12's sixth-place team and there are multiple contracts that will determine the opponent. In 2013, it will be BYU. In the incredible event they don't become bowl-eligible, they will be replaced by a team from the ACC, MAC, or WAC. Last year UCLA were up against Illinois as Army missed out on bowl-eligibility.

Navy finished 8-4 but that may have looked a stretch considering they were bullied around the field when losing 50-10 to (1)Notre Dame to open the season. The Midshipmen finished strong winning seven of eight, capped by claiming the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy against Army in Philadelphia. Navy and its triple-option offense hope to take advantage of a Sun Devils defense which allowed four of its final six opponents to rush for more than 200 yards. The Midshipmen rank 6th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 275.6 while attempting just 160 passes, just what you'd expect from these hard-nosed men of honor. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds threw for just 884 yards and eight touchdowns with one interception and leading the team with 10 rushing TDs. Impressive though is his 9.1 yards per attempt, and even better 15.7 yards per completion. Reynolds ran for 588 yards in the final seven games, and fullback Noah Copeland rushed for 209 with three TDs over the last two. Gee Gee Greene led the team with 765 rushing yards but managed just 15 on four carries against Army. That's the definition of a triple-option.

After opening the season 5-1, Arizona State dropped four in a row, three to ranked PAC-12 sides in Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State, but closed with back-to-back wins over Washington State and Arizona to become bowl-eligible, finishing 7-5. Quarterback Taylor Kelly's threw seven interceptions in those losses and he was sacked 17 times in that span. The sophomore passed for 2,772 yards with 25 touchdowns. Kelly ranks second in the PAC-12 in yards per attempt (8.15) and third in completion percentage (65.9), not too shabby in a quarterback-heavy conference, however he trails Keenan Reynolds in yards per completion with a measly 12.4 yards . He was one of four Sun Devils to rush for more than 400 yards, but none of them had more than 524, bringing excellent balance to the ground game. Arizona State had similar balance in the passing game with six players having at least 300 yards receiving, led by tight end Chris Coyle's 659 yards and 5 TDs. Tailback Marion Grice was responsible for a lot of points with eight TD receptions and nine TD runs, including three against Arizona as he ran for a career-high 156 yards. The nation's 24th ranked scoring offense (36.4 per game) should be able to find some holes in a Navy defense that allowed 705 passing yards in two games before facing run-heavy Army in the regular-season finale. The defense however will need to improve on their 76th ranked 172 rushing yards per game.

FOR NAVY TO WIN
Share the load, the triple-option has to be effective to allow Navy to stay in this. The added benefit of having such a run-heavy offense is that the clock continues to tick and leaves less time for Arizona State to put up points. The secondary is important and though the players will be well drilled, they can't allow any cheap plays and need to put the receivers on the ground as soon as they can.

FOR ARIZONA STATE TO WIN
Spread the ball around the field, they have plenty of receiving options for Taylor Kelly and they have more than a few ways to pick up yards on the ground. The Navy defense will stop the Sun Devil offense, but they can't let a few 3-and-outs get them down. Due to the balance of their passing game, they can score at any time, from anywhere. They should always be in the game, and the key to victory is limiting the Navy running game better than their regular season performance would suggest and try to force the Midshipmen to take to the air to beat them.

VERDICT
This is the archetypal run offense vs. pass offense game, Navy will look to pound the yards against the 76th ranked rushing defense in the country, and on the other side of the ball, Arizona State will toss a barrage against the nation's 36th ranked passing defense. This may be more of an attritional game than we've seen in other bowls and Navy should have the discipline to keep in touch with the Sun Devils. Their triple-option attack is hard to replicate in practice, and could keep Arizona State guessing for a while. The Sun Devils will utilize Taylor Kelly's skills in the pocket to pick off the Navy secondary and his quick feet will be needed to pick up those 3rd and 2 type yardages. The game should still be in the balance until late in the 4th and will be a game to watch for the pure football enthusiasts.

ADVICE
Navy +14
Over 53 points

DRINKING GAME
1 drink: Any reference to Arizona State's reputation as a party school.
2 drinks: A sighting of Roger Staubach.
Finish it: Arizona State is referred to as “Ball So Hard” University.

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