Navy v. San Diego State
Qualcomm Stadium — San Diego, CA
December 23, 2014 — 9:30 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Why You Should Watch
It’s the first of San Diego’s two bowl games played in Qualcomm Stadium, one of the last extant examples of the multi-purpose stadium craze of the 1960s. This edition of the Poinsettia Bowl caps a decade of its modern incarnation after originally serving as the name for the military services championship game from 1952 to 1955. So you can say you were part of the 10th anniversary of this game as a college bowl if you tune in on Tuesday evening. The selection of teams is certain to draw plenty of enthusiastic support in the stadium, thanks to a home team on one sideline and a representative of a large part of the community on the other.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
The Midshipmen won the inaugural edition of this game in 2005 and have been back to the Poinsettia Bowl on two other occasions prior to this year. Navy was its usual self this season, its option attack dependent on the run to succeed. The Middies were second nationally in rushing yardage per game, so they definitely have the ground game honed to a science. They scored 33 points per game, but allowed more than four touchdowns on average defensively to negate much of that advantage. They’ll have plenty of support from the nearby naval bases that comprise a large sector of the San Diego demographic, and Navy is coming into the game with a three-game winning streak and a desire to finish with at least eight wins for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.
San Diego State
San Diego State is playing on their home field, the third time the Aztecs have played in the Poinsettia Bowl. When they faced Navy in this game in 2010, more than 48,000 people witnessed the game in person and over 3.5 million people tuned in to the ESPN broadcast. SDSU missed out on a chance to play in the MWC Championship Game due to their head-to-head loss to Fresno State on October 3, but since that defeat the Aztecs have finished the year 5-2 on the strength of a defense that ranks 15th nationally in points against and, more importantly, allowed just 146 rushing yards per game. Their defensive strengths will be tested against Navy, but they have a tough ground game of their own. Tailback Donnel Pumphrey rushed for 1755 yards and 19 touchdowns in the regular season and will look to add to the total on his home turf.
What is Likely to Happen
This game won’t surpass the record crowd of 2010 for the Poinsettia Bowl, but there will be plenty of action to keep the 35,000 or so in attendance interested until the end. Navy will definitely gain more rushing yardage than San Diego State’s season average allowed on defense, but will they get in the endzone enough? The Aztecs will have the advantage of familiarity with their surroundings, though the stadium support will be overwhelmingly in favor of the visitors. While Keenan Reynolds will have the crowd on its side, though, the Midshipmen have no threat comparable to Pumphrey in their backfield. Look for the sophomore running back to make the difference in a game that SDSU pulls out late.
San Diego State 28, Navy 24