Navy Midshipmen (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. San Diego Aztecs (7-5 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Date and Time: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 9:30PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NAVY +3/SDSU -3
Over/Under Total: 54
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On Tuesday, December 23 in the Poinsettia Bowl, the Navy Midshipmen come into Qualcomm Stadium to face the San Diego Aztecs. Both teams are 7-5. The Aztecs last played on the 29th of November with a 38-7 win over San Jose State. Navy is less rusty, having played in the Army-Navy game on December 13, winning in rather uninspiring fashion, 17-10.
San Diego State has seen an uneven season in 2014, with their share of ups and downs. They got off to a 2-3 start, before winning 5 of their last 7 games. In their last three games, they lost in a competitive game with a really good Boise State team, beat 9-win Air Force, 30-14, before pounding San Jose State in their regular season finale.
Navy had a similar trajectory, with a rough start followed by a strong surge. They looked to be in big trouble with a 2-4 start, but have since won 5 out of 6, with their only setback being a 49-39 loss to then-10th-ranked Notre Dame. But in all fairness, the schedule got a bit cushy in the second half of the season, with the Midshipmen beating VMI, San Jose State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, and then Army last week. Their other two wins were against Temple and Texas State.
The Aztecs will benefit from playing in a bowl game on their home-floor at the Q. Six of their 7 wins have occurred at home, where they are unbeaten. In all fairness, San Diego hasnt exactly beaten a whos-who either, with wins over Northern Arizona, UNLV, New Mexico, Hawaii, Idaho, and San Jose State. But their 30-14 win over Air Force gives them a good win that Navy doesnt really have, with Air Force having beaten Navy 30-21.
Won-loss record and common opponents aside, this should be a well-contested game. The Aztecs offense is stewarded by QB Quinn Kaehler, who has just 9 TD throws with 10 picks. But their real weapon is Donnel Pumphrey, a dynamic running back who is the countrys third-leading rusher with 1755 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is responsible for most of the Aztecs offensive production.
Defensively, the Aztecs have a lot of talent, one of the best units in the conference. They are especially resilient against the pass, though that wont play much into this game, with Navy featuring such a run-heavy approach. But San Diego State has been good against the run, as well, allowing an average of just 146 yards per game. They are 14th in the country in allowing an average of 20 points per game. The one weak link is their passing-game, which really struggles. Their offense is a bit one-dimensional.
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Navy is led by QB Keenan Reynolds, who is also the teams leading rusher with 1182 yards and a massive 21 touchdown runs. For however anemic Quinn Kaehlers aerial prowess is, hes Johnny Unitas compared to Reynolds, who has thrown for a measly 826 yards this season. Only two Navy pass-catchers are over 100 yards on the season. But their run-game is pretty immense coming out of the option package, with Noah Copeland, Chris Swain, and Geoffrey Whiteside also chipping in with good production. It is the second-leading rushing offense in the entire country. Defensively, however, they are not near as stout as the Aztecs, giving up over 28 points per game.
San Diego will have been off for 3.5 weeks by the time they hit the field on Tuesday. Navy just played on the 13th, meaning they will have only been off for 10 days. And its difficult to process that result. It probably helps that they played more recently, even though the time off gave some weary bodies on SDSU a chance to recuperate. But Navy looked a bit sleepy through 4 quarters against a 4-win Army team and had better come up with something better in this game or they probably wont beat the Aztecs.
It helps that San Diego State has already seen a similar option team in Air Force, showing they can handle the formation and all the trickery that goes with it. And it was frankly a better representation of the option that the Aztecs beat by whipping Air Force. Sure, one game does not prove a pattern and it does help that Navy is less-rusty.
Other than that, its not entirely clear why San Diego State is such a small favorite. Thats not to imply that this wont be a tough game. And this isnt one of the better overall Aztecs teams seen in recent years. It almost seems to obvious, that it could make a potential San Diego State backer suspicious, like what major oversight are we making? I think San Diego State wins by 10, being a bit leery that this could look better on the surface than it really is.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego State Aztecs minus 3 points.