I have always been a proponent of military schools in bowl games as their heart, focus, preparation and enthusiasm are unmatched in the world. Military schools are a profitable 26-12 ATS in bowl games, including 17-3 ATS if they failed to cover the point spread in their previous game. Let’s also note that Navy is an impressive 71-35 ATS on the road, including 54-20 ATS as a road underdog, 74-38 ATS on the road versus non-conference opponents and 10-2 ATS as a road underdog of three points or less.
Meanwhile, San Diego State arrives at the Poinsettia Bowl off two consecutive wins (SU & ATS) over both Air Force (30-14) and San Jose State (38-7), but that is actually bad news for the Aztecs as they are a woeful 14-31 ATS after covering the point spread in two or more consecutive games and 1-10 ATS after covering the Vegas number in three or more straight games.
One final note on Navy: the Midshipmen are 18-5 ATS versus Mountain West Conference foes, including a near-perfect 13-1 ATS when taking the field off a win. The Midshipmen are also 8-3 ATS in their last eleven games off a win and 7-3 ATS in their last ten games versus teams with a winning record. I also like the fact that Navy committed the fewest number of penalties in college football this season (28). Discipline . . . discipline . . . discipline.
Navy’s triple-option attack is averaging 33.1 points per game on 432 total yards at 6.5 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow just 5.8 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad. As you probably already know, the bedrock of Navy’s attack is its ground game that is averaging 358 yards per game at 6.4 yards per rush play against teams that would combine to yield 4.8 yards per rush play. The 358-yard average on the ground is the Midshipmen’s best mark in over twenty years.
San Diego State possesses a good defense that is allowing 5.0 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yards per play against mediocre defensive squads. Regardless of those numbers, the Midshipmen still possess a 1.1 yards per rush attempt and 0.2 yards per play advantage offensively over San Diego State’s stop unit. And, despite throwing the ball an average of just ten times per game, Navy is averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt (1.3 yards per pass play better than average).
Navy possesses a subpar defense that is 0.1 yards per play worse than average (5.9 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.8 yards per play), but the Aztecs take the field with a pedestrian offense (6.0 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.1 yards per play). San Diego State’s offensive woes are directly linked to quarterback Quinn Kaehler, who was not a highly-recruited JUCO. In fact, Toledo’s offensive coordinator once said that “Kaehler can’t break a pane of glass.”
After a terrific 2013-2014 campaign, Kaehler regressed significantly this season, throwing for only 2,016 yards with a 56.4% completion rate and a terrible 9-10 ratio. With San Diego State head coach Rocky Long standing at 2-6 SU and ATS in bowl games and bowl teams posting a miserable 2-4 SU and ATS records as hosts since 2005, take the Midshipmen plus the points and invest with confidence.
Note: I question how much of a home field advantage San Diego State will have in the Poinsettia Bowl as the largest naval base on the west coast resides in San Diego.