The last thing the Navy Midshipmen did this season was fail to claim the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with a loss to Army in the snow in Philadelphia. The Middies shouldn’t be overly bothered by that, though, at least as it pertains to their bowl game. They get to stay home for the holidays in the Military Bowl and will welcome the Virginia Cavaliers to Annapolis on December 28.
Navy Bowl History
Navy has only missed out on a bowl game one time since 2003. This season has been frustrating for sure at 6-6, and a loss in this contest would mark the team’s second losing season in the last decade and a half.
The results seem to go in ebbs and flows for the Midshipmen in the postseason. They lost three straight bowls and five out of six from 2006 through 2012, but they won three in a row before dropping last year’s Armed Forces Bowl. The good news for the Middies is that they’re playing this game at home, a place where they beat Pittsburgh in the 2015 edition of the Military Bowl.
Virginia Bowl History
You have to go back a dozen years to find the last time Virginia won a bowl game. The team has only been to two postseason showcases since that point, losing the 2007 Gator Bowl and the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Bronco Mendenhall is still in the middle of a big rebuild in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers went 4-8 in 2015, and they bottomed out at 2-10 in the former BYU head man’s debut campaign. The 6-6 season should be a nice steppingstone to the future of this program, and with a projected 17 starters returning for next year, good things could be on the horizon.
Why Navy Will Win the Military Bowl
The Midshipmen played against a horrifying schedule in 2017. Sure, they lost their last three games of the season, but do you really blame them for falling at Notre Dame, at Houston and to Army? We certainly don’t.
This is a team that has been here and done this before, playing eight bowl-eligible squads this season. The Middies only played two of those games at home, a 10-point loss to UCF and a three-point win over SMU.
Zac Abey is the heart and soul of this team, but he was sidelined at the end of the year, giving Malcolm Perry his time to shine. All Perry did in his last three games was run for 282, 82 and 250 yards, and he amassed six touchdowns in the process.
Why Virginia Will Win the Military Bowl
The Cavaliers played against a slew of bowl-eligible teams this year as well, including pulling off upsets over Boise State, Duke and Georgia Tech.
Senior quarterback Kurt Benkert is hoping to impress enough scouts to get a shot in the NFL next season. His stats surely warrant some consideration. Yes, he only averaged 6.5 yards per pass attempt, and he played in a relatively simple offense. However, he also only threw eight interceptions against 25 touchdowns. With that type of success, the Cavaliers competed against just about everyone they played this year.
Military Bowl Prediction
Neither one of these teams closed out the season the way they would have wanted, but Navy is definitely being understated in what will amount to be a home game. The Hoos will have plenty of support, but they were far too inconsistent against good teams this year to be trusted here.
Though you’d think that having four weeks to prepare for the triple option would make life easier, you just can’t simulate the speed in which the Midshipmen run this offense. With Navy having the ability to toss both Abey and Brown out there on any given play, it’s hard to know exactly what’s coming. If the weather holds up in Annapolis a few days after Christmas – a problem Navy has had to contend with often this year – this should be a win for the home team.
Military Bowl Pick: Navy 35, Virginia 21
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