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Friday, December 19, 2008
What to watch in the EagleBank Bowl

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are a few things to keep an eye on in Saturday's EagleBank Bowl:

Wake's defense vs. Navy fullback Eric Kettani. The Demon Deacons need to take away the fullback from this triple-option offense, something they didn't do in the first game -- Kettani ran for 175 yards against them.

Third downs. Wake Forest will have to be better stopping Navy on third downs. The Deacs allowed Navy to convert seven of 10 third downs in the first half of their last game (including six of six in the first quarter), and that put them behind 17-0. Navy controlled the clock 11:43 to 3:17 in the first quarter.

Turnover margin. Both teams are tied for third in the nation in turnover margin. Navy has carried the ball 667 times and only lost it nine times, and the offense has a total of 13 turnovers this season. When Wake Forest beat the Midshipmen last year, it forced Navy to turn it over three times. When Wake lost earlier this season, it turned the ball over six times and quarterback Riley Skinner had arguably the worst game of his career with a career-high four interceptions. In order for Wake to have a chance, the turnover margin needs to be at least 50-50.

Wake's running game. Navy held Wake Forest to 43 rushing yards in their last meeting and just two rushing first downs. The Deacons have to establish their ability to run the ball early in this game, and Navy's defense is playing much better than it was a year ago, not to mention the last time these teams played. The Midshipmen have posted two consecutive shutouts.

Wake's punt coverage. The Deacons have allowed just 11 punt returns for a total of eight yards (an average of .73 yards per return), and lead the nation in punt return yardage defense. The longest punt return against the Deacons this year was just two yards.

Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner. As he goes, so go the Deacs. Wake is 18-3 when Skinner doesn't throw an interception, and 7-8 when he does. And yes, the September Navy game was one of those losses. Skinner is the winningest quarterback in school history.

Wake's first-round draft pick. If you haven't seen linebacker Aaron Curry play, now's the time, because his next game will be in an NFL uniform. The Butkus Award winner leads the Deacons with 101 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He's had four games with 10 or more tackles.