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Military Bowl preview

Another game in the NCAA Bowl series previewed by James Jack, @materialista27. Read more of his work on his dedicated College Bowl site.

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Military Bowl - Presented by Northrop Grumman

Thursday December 27th, 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)

RFK Stadium, Washington DC

(24)San Jose State Spartans vs. Bowling Green Falcons

The Military Bowl has been played annually at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. since 2008. The game is sponsored by Northrop Grumman, one of the world's leading defense contractors, and we're all expecting plenty of run-and-gun offense and a proper shootout. Lol, I'm here all week. (And there's a lot worse to come) The bowl game usually features a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and either a team from Conference USA (C-USA) or one of the service academies. This year however that scheduling idea has been thrown out as we have a team from the WAC and a team from the MAC. As is stands, the Army academy has yet to appear in the Bowl, however they are slated to appear in next year's game against the wait-for-it 9th bowl eligible team from the ACC. That may be a stretch in the coming seasons as they only managed to produce six bowl-eligible teams this season. Last season we were treated to a beaut of a game, only decided in the last minute.

This is the last game in charge of the 10-2 Spartans for Mike MacIntyre before he departs the WAC to take over the University of Colorado Buffaloes at Boulder. Motivation to win one for the outgoing coach should be very high as defensive co-ordinator Kent Baer takes over for this one and will be hoping his players will want to put on a show for incoming Head Coach Ron Caragher. The offense is led by David Fales, an impressive junior who's thrown for 3798 yards (7th in the country) 31 TDs (tied 8th in the nation) and a Passer Rating of 170.92 (3rd amongst qualifying QBs) but crucially, when it comes to qualifying quarterbacks, he's the best in the country with a 72.1% completion rate. They've faced some very good defenses this year, the best of which being BYU. The Spartans beat the Cougars 20-14, but more importantly Fales produced one of his best performances of the year going 25/34 for 305 yards and 3TDs. He has a pair of fine receivers in Noel Grigsby (1173 yards, 9 TD) and Chandler Jones (618 yards, 10 TD) as well as Ryan Otten TE and Jabari Carr WR who both have over 500 yards. Their rushing game has been pretty poor, however De'leon Eskridge is only 8 yards short of 1000 for a team ranked 104th in rushing yards per game. The defense has been good at backing up the explosive passing game, only allowing 21.4 points 227.8 yards passing and 123.67 yards rushing (19th nationally) and Defensive End Travis Johnson has been impressive against the pass this season, racking up 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss which led him to be named WAC defensive player of the year,

The Falcons finished 8-4 and second in the MAC behind Kent State, however their losses came at the hands of two ranked teams Florida and Kent State as well as Toledo and Virginia Tech. Bowling Green are not known for their offense, finishing 11th in the MAC and 87th nationally with 373.9 yards per game. Anthon Samuel gained 966 yards rushing, although he's been on a bit of a cold streak as eight of his ten touchdowns on the ground came in the first six games. Junior Matt Schilz is third in school history with 7,673 passing yards in his third season as a starter. He had 2,426 yards, 14 TDs and 12 INTs this season. Bowling Green's defense was the top-ranked unit in the MAC as well as 7th nationally giving up just 289.7 yards per game. Linebackers Gabe Martin (69 tackles), Dwayne Woods (60) and Paul Swan (60) are very important for the Falcons, especially as they'll need to pressure the QB in this game. Bowling Green defensive tackle Chris Jones was named as the MAC player of the year. Jones finished third in the nation with 12 ½ sacks and 19 tackles for loss.

FOR SAN JOSE STATE TO WIN

The offensive line has to buy David Fales time, if they can build a reliable pocket for him to survey the field from, he will rip the Falcons apart like Christmas wrapping paper. He's talented and he's shown this season he can find multiple receivers during the game. It is tempting to focus all of the defensive attention on Fales, but should Bowling Green resort to that tactic, Eskridge has the ability to move the chains on the ground especially on the outside.

FOR BOWLING GREEN TO WIN

Win the battle at the line of scrimmage, they can't allow Fales time to find a receiver, and they need to contain the SJSU rushing attack inside the tackle box. They will be relying of Anthon Samuel to pace the attack and Matt Schilz has to get the ball to his receivers, he can't give the Spartan secondary a chance to make a play.

VERDICT

With two impressive defenses on show, points should be at a premium. The key battle in my opinion is the San Jose State offensive line against the Bowling Green front seven. If SJSU can gain the upper hand, they'll give Fales the time he needs to pick the Falcons apart. However, if the defense prevails, this game could turn into a war of attrition as neither rushing offense is that impressive. Hopefully this game will turn into a quarterback clinic for the sake of offensive football.

ADVICE

San Jose State -7

Under 43.5 points

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