Both Navy and Louisiana Tech carry two-game losing streaks – including setbacks in their respective conference title games – into the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Midshipmen, who fell to Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship before losing to Army for the first time in 15 years, have won three straight bowl games – including this one in 2013. The Bulldogs have won two bowl games in a row and are seeking their third consecutive nine-win season.
Navy has not been the same team since losing senior quarterback Will Worth – the nation’s leader with 25 rushing touchdowns – early in the loss to Temple on Dec. 3. Sophomore Zach Abey has run for three scores since taking over but has thrown four interceptions in the two games. Abey and his crew will need to get some early points in order to prevent a situation where they need to play catch up through the air opposite Louisiana Tech’s relentless passing attack.
Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Higgins was named Conference USA MVP after throwing for 4,208 yards and 37 TDs against eight interceptions for the nation’s fifth-ranked scoring offense (44 points per game) and third-ranked passing unit (359.8 yards). Navy’s rushing game is fourth in the country at 310.9 yards, making for an intriguing clash of styles. “It certainly has some interesting dynamics when you look at the two teams and where both of our strengths are and both of our weaknesses are,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz – who is 4-3 in bowl games – told reporters.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Louisiana Tech opened as 3.5-point favorites and that number wasn’t high enough for bettors and has been climbing settling at 6.5. The total hit the board at 66 and has risen to two full points to 68. View the complete line history here.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened Navy as a 1 point favorite this bowl game, but took early action on Louisianna Tech (over 70%) The action has been so overwhelming on Louisiana Tech that the line has moved all the way to Tech -6.5 with over 85% of the action on Tech to cover.” – Michael Stewart at CarbonSports.ag
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth Texas is looking wet, with cloudy skies and showers expected at kickoff. Temperatures in the mid-50’s and slight wind to the north, make for a less than ideal day for football.
Louisiana Tech – LB Dalton Santos (questionable, academics), LB Jordan Harris (questionable, academics), S Secdrick Cooper (questionable, neck)
Navy – LB Ryan Harris (out, lower body), LB Josiah Powell (out, leg), WR Tyler Carmona (doubtful, foot), LB Mike Kelly (questionable, shoulder), WR Craig Scott (questionable, ankle), S Jerry Thompson (questionable, ankle), SB Darryl Bonner (questionable, head), S Kyle Battle (questionable, knee), SB Joshua Walker (questionable, shoulder), SB Josh Brown (questionable, foot), CB Elijah Merchant (questionable, concussion), G Marcus Edwards (questionable, personal), LB Hudson Sullivan (questionable, knee)
ABOUT LOUISIANA TECH (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS, 10-3 OU): Higgins has one of the nation’s top targets in senior Trent Taylor, who is second in the country in receptions (124), third in yards (1,570) and among 31 players with at least 10 receiving TDs, although he has only two in his last eight games. Junior Carlos Henderson had 52 fewer grabs but nearly the same number of yards (1,406) and ranks tied for second among FBS players with 17 receiving scores. Junior running back Jarred Craft had a total of 31 yards on the ground over the last two games but gained 1,350 total yards this season and 13 TDs, nine of which came on the ground.
ABOUT NAVY (9-4 SU, 7-5-1 ATS, 8-5 OU): The Midshipmen will be challenged early and often by Higgins after allowing 25 TDs through the air and ranking 122nd in the country in passing efficiency defense. It’ll be up to Abey and a fleet of backs – led by junior Chris High (500 rushing yards, five TDs) – to maintain possession and burn the clock. Senior fullback Shawn White had 310 of his 443 yards over the final five games, as well as four of his seven scores, while senior wideout Jamir Tillman has team highs of 38 catches and 615 receiving yards.
* Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Bowl games.
* Midshipmen are 0-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 7-1 in Bulldogs last 8 games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in Midshipmen last 4 Friday games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is backing Louisiana Tech with 55 percent of the wagers on the Bulldogs. The Over is getting 54 percent of the total action. View full consensus date here.