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Officials from 5 bowls will attend game

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Navy is a wanted team -- for a bowl game, that is.

Officials from five bowls will attend Saturday's game against Rutgers, with the Midshipmen in strong position to land their second straight postseason berth.

With a triple-option attack directed by quarterback Aaron Polanco, the Midshipmen (7-2) have a chance to return to the Houston Bowl or end up in the Emerald, Liberty, Motor City or Tangerine bowls.

However, coach Paul Johnson has tried to convince his players that nothing is certain.

"I told them that they better be thinking they are playing for one," Johnson, who led Navy to the Houston Bowl last season. "In my mind, we aren't in one. We need to keep winning."

Even Rutgers (4-5) has a bowl chance with wins in its final two games.

"We're excited to still be playing form something in November," coach Greg Schiano said. "We're slowly trying to build a program and a winning season would be a huge step forward. Whether that gets us to a bowl is anyone's guess, but it's a good goal to strive for."

The bowls are among those that could be looking for an at-large entry if major conferences don't fulfill their tie-ins. Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli, whose game has an opening because of a shortage of Pac-10 qualifiers, could extend a bid by Sunday night.

"I'd say Navy is at the top of our list," Cavalli said. "We also have some attractive options from the ACC and Big East."

Navy's losses came against Notre Dame (27-9) and last week at Tulane (42-10). The Midshipmen close the regular season against Army on Dec. 4. With wins over Navy and Connecticut, Rutgers hopes to claim a Big East bowl spot.

"We still feel that we can get into a bowl game if we end up with a winning record," free safety Ron Girault said. "We all want badly to go to a bowl game, but we know we have to beat Navy to have that chance."

Rutgers hasn't posted a winning season since 1992 and hasn't played in a bowl game since going to the Garden State Bowl in 1978.