2015 Military Bowl and Quick Lane Bowl Previews

December 27, 2015

It may be hard to believe that with so many bowl games already completed, we aren’t even halfway through the college football postseason yet.

On Monday we’ll be very close to the midway point, however, and the day will also mark the beginning of a six day span with multiple bowl games per day. When those six days are over, we’ll only have one game remaining.

In Von Hugendong news, Tommy (Week 11 guest prognosticator) still leads the group. Several close games on Saturday had an impact on the standings, but not at the top as Tommy still has a significant lead.

Let’s take a look at the two bowl games being played on December 28.

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman

Pittsburgh vs. #21 Navy (Monday, 2:30 PM ET – ESPN)

The Midshipmen had a very impressive showing in their first season as an AAC member, and were rewarded unusually with a bowl game played at their home stadium. Due to conference tie-ins, there are very few teams in FBS that can do that, but it will be interesting to see just how big of an advantage it is for Navy. Pittsburgh played well this season under first year head coach Pat Narduzzi and would love to get back on the winning track in the postseason.

Navy has one of the greats behind center, and he will be sorely missed by all of college football when he is gone. Senior Keenan Reynolds will don the navy blue and gold for the final time in this football game, and a win isn’t the only thing he’ll be chasing. Reynolds is just two touchdowns behind Kenneth Dixon for the career total touchdown record with 85, a record he held following the Army-Navy game. In order for the Midshipmen to win this game, Reynolds will likely need to at least tie the record. Pittsburgh has the No. 3 run defense in the ACC and it is generally easier for defenses to prepare for triple option offenses with extra time, as is the case in a bowl game scenario. Reynolds does have a strong and accurate arm for a Navy quarterback, though, so the Midshipmen won’t rely solely on the run game to move the ball.

The Panthers played a tough schedule this season and hung tight in every one of their four losses. Navy may have the advantage of playing in front of a pro-Midshipmen crowd, but the winner of this game isn’t going to get out of this one without being bruised and exhausted. I like the toughness of Navy for 29 points, but this one will be close.

My Pick: 28-24 Navy

Quick Lane Bowl

Central Michigan vs. Minnesota (Monday, 5 PM ET – ESPN)

If Nebraska proved anything on Saturday night, it’s that 5-7 Big Ten teams are not to be taken lightly in bowl season. Enter Minnesota, another 5-7 squad looking to silence the critics saying that teams with losing records have no business playing in a postseason game. In order to do that, they’ll have to best a Central Michigan team playing close to home and looking to avenge a bowl loss in the same stadium just two seasons ago.

If you compare Nebraska, the other 5-7 bowl team in the Big Ten, to Minnesota, defensively there is not a lot of difference. But what Nebraska had that Minnesota does not is a consistently potent offense that produced a lot of points. Minnesota is next to last in the Big Ten in points per game with 22.6, and will be going up against the MAC’s top overall defense in terms of yards allowed per game. Thus, if the Golden Gophers want to win they will need an unexpected performance from somewhere on the offensive end. Quarterback Mitch Leidner has plenty of experience but has been inconsistent this season. The running game has been by committee, and trying to name an X-factor in this game is nearly impossible. On the defensive end, Minnesota will need to contain quarterback Cooper Rush, who averages over 300 passing yards per contest. The Chippewas are fairly one dimensional offensively compared to the Golden Gophers, however.

For as many “ifs” that have been brought up, it doesn’t hold a candle to the number of things that Nebraska needed to do to beat UCLA. The Bruins were supposedly far better than the Cornhuskers and allowed 37 points to Nebraska. I’m not sure that there is much truly separating Minnesota and Central Michigan, which is why I have the sub-.500 team for 4 points.

My Pick: 31-23 Minnesota

If you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. You can also like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two days before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

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