2008 Eagle Bank Bowl Preview and Pick – Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Navy Midshipmen

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-5) -3, 42 O/U vs. Navy Midshipmen (8-4)
Eagle Bank Bowl, Washington, D.C, Dec 20th, 11:00AM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The nations capital will host the first bowl game for the college football postseason when Wake Forest and Navy square off for the Eagle Bank Bowl. The Demon Deacons reached the number 15th ranking in the country early this season before struggling down the stretch. They will go to war with the best rushing offense in college football. The great thing about the bowl games is they provide some match-ups you normally would never see, however this particular game is a re-match from a great battle earlier this season where the Midshipmen edged out Wake Forest 24-17.

Wake Forest had high expectations this year especially in ACC play. The Demon Deacons struggled to produce points this season. Wake Forest only averaged 20 points this season which ranks towards the very bottom in the nation. In their 5 losses, Wake Forest did not score over 21 points in any of those games. The Demon Deacon offense ranks in the bottom half of the NCAA in nearly every major category. On the other side of the ball, the Wake Forest defense has played very well this season. The Wake Forest defense has only allowed 18 points per game this season with a top 20 overall defense. The Demon Deacons defense will try and shutdown the Navy rushing attack. A task they failed miserably in their first meeting when they allowed the Midshipmen to rack up nearly 300 yards rushing in the game.

Navy has averaged 294 yards per game on the ground which is best in America. The Midshipmen seemed to improve as the season progressed winning 7 of their last 9 games and also shutting out their last two opponents. Navy has two running backs that will likely end the season with a 1,000 yards rushing. Senior Shun White already has 1021 yards, 8 touchdowns, and a crazy 8.1 yards per carry average. Eric Kettani is only 68 yards away from a 1,000 yard season that would complete a fairly rare achievement in having two backs to have 1,000 yard seasons. Kettani has averaged 5.3 yards per carry along with 4 touchdowns. Navy will run the ball the entire game with a variety of options and misdirection plays. The Midshipmen fooled the Demon Deacons earlier this season, but it usually is harder to do the second time around.

Sportbet has opened the betting line favoring Wake Forest to score the revenge by a field goal. There may be many bettors to jump on Navy in this game considering they won the first meeting and the Demon Deacon defense struggles against the run at times. The over/under total has been posted at 42 in the ball game. Last game the two teams accounted for 41 points and the bookies think this will be a similar type scoring event.

The Navy defense has been fairly mediocre all season. The Midshipmen have allowed 21 points per game this season and also allowed opposing offenses 338 yards per game of total offense. The Midshipmen defense and the Wake Forest offense will be a interesting battle to watch.

Wake Forest has struggled at times this season with scoring while Navy is responsible for two straight shutouts. Wake Forest junior QB Riley Skinner could be the difference maker in the EagleBank Bowl. Skinner is a solid quarterback and he will get a chance to expose a weak Navy secondary which allows over 200 yards per game through the air. Skinner is completing 62% on the year for 2,181 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 7 picks. Look for Skinner to try and hook up with wide receiver D.J Boldin and take advantage of the Navy secondary.

Wake Forest must find a way to keep the Navy rushing game at bay to score a victory. The Demon Deacons really need to put every player in the box and force Navy to throw the football. The Midshipmen would still most likely run the football barring the non-existent passing attack. Navys ability to run the ball with fakes and options give them the threat to run the ball to the outside and between the tackles which is hard to defend. Still, you would expect Wake to be all over the running game. Then again every team Navy has played this season has keyed on the rushing attack, but they simply have not been stopped.

Betting Trends
Navy is 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games while reaching the under total in 4 of their last 5 games. The Midshipmen are 1-4 SU in their last 5 games against Wake Forest. Wake Forest is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games. The Demon Deacons have gone on the under side in 7 of their last 10 games as well.

Jays Pick: Im guessing touchdowns are tougher to come by this time. Navy should not gain as many yards running and Wake may continue to struggle offensively. I like the under 42.