Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Pac-12 bowl primer: Kraft Fight Hunger
By Ted Miller
This week we'll be taking a snapshot look at all of the bowl games including Pac-12 teams.
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
Arizona State (7-5, 5-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
Where: San Francisco, AT&T Park
When: Sat. Dec. 29, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT
About Arizona State: Arizona State started fast at 5-1, lost four in a row to ranked Pac-12 teams, then finished with a flourish, winning at arch-rival Arizona. That made Year 1 a success for new coach Todd Graham, who built a team that was more efficient and disciplined on both sides of the ball. The Sun Devils ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring offense (36.4 points per game) and fifth in scoring defense (24 points per game). QB Taylor Kelly ranked third in the conference in passing efficiency, while a backfield by committee approach netted the Sun Devils 191 yards rushing per game.
About Navy: Navy started 1-3, but bounced back for a strong season. Its four losses came to Notre Dame, Penn State, San Jose State and Troy. It's best wins were over Air Force, Indiana and at East Carolina. The Midshipmen run a traditional triple-option and therefore run the ball well and pass infrequently, though with solid efficiency. They ranked sixth in the nation in rushing (275.6 yards per game) and 117th in passing (110.4 ypg). The defense is solid but sometimes vulnerable to the pass. Navy ranked 85th in the nation in pass efficiency defense and struggled to get pressure on the opposing QB.
Key players, Arizona State: No one blocked DT Will Sutton this year, and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year will need to be a disruptive presence as Navy tries to wear down the Sun Devils. Tackles for a loss on first and second down are key for defending an option attack, as the offense doesn't do third-and-long well. Sutton led the Pac-12 with 20 tackles for a loss this season. He needs to get a few against the Midshipmen.
Key players, Navy: The Midshipman's freshman QB Keenan Reynolds is why Navy's season took off. He rushed for 628 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns and passed for 884 yards and eight TDs with just one interception. While Navy doesn't throw much, Reynold's efficiency number would rank 10th in the nation, so he's effective when he does throw. Reynolds is the guy pulling the trigger in the triple-option, and he's the first guy the Sun Devils must worry about.
Did you know: This is the first meeting between the teams... At 7-5, the Sun Devils posted their first winning season in the regular season since going 10-2 in 2007... This is Navy's 18th all-time bowl appearance and ninth in the last 10 years. Navy's last postseason game was a 35-14 loss to San Diego State in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl... Arizona State will be making its 26th bowl appearance and its second in the past two seasons. This will be the Sun Devils' first appearance in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. ASU holds an all-time mark of 12-12-1 in bowl games, dating back to its first bowl appearance in 1940, a scoreless tie with Catholic University in the Sun Bowl. ASU's last bowl appearance was last season at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, a 56-24 loss to Boise State.