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Barking Bowl Bets...Wake -3 vs. Navy

EagleBank Bowl

Played in Washington DC

Navy vs. Wake Forest

Location -- small edge Navy

This game is played in RFK stadium which is close enough to both schools that fans should have no problem attending. However due to proximity , I have to give the slightest of edges to Navy in this regard. However, I do not think that locale is a major factor for this game.

Athletes -- edge Wake Forest
As is usually the case , the service academy teams are not as athletic as their opponent. Wake has more size and more speed. Navy will have to overcome with discipline, hard work and a never die spirit.

Motivation-- edge Wake Forest
There are several reasons that I feel Wake Forest has motivational edges in this game. The first is their defeat to navy earlier in the year. In a game played at home, wake committed 6 turnovers including four Riley Skinner interceptions. Skinner failed to throw an interception in 9 of his 12 games played this year and threw a combined 3 for the entire season if you threw out the navy game. He and the team should be motivated in this game to avenge that loss. In addition, this is the graduating class that turned the demon deacon program around under Jim Grobe. I think there is incentive for these guys to finish it out strong. For navy it is a reward but not much of one. They get to play another game, in an nfl stadium ( done it already this year ), face wake forest (a team they al ready defeated this year ), and they don’t even get to go to a cool place. Now, that doesn’t mean that I think navy comes out flat. They are a service academy and that pretty much means they play every down , every quarter with effort. You have to admire these young men. But looking at the motivation here , I think it clearly lies with wake forest.

Coaching-- edge Wake Forest
I am a pretty big Grobe fan though I prefer him in the underdog role as compared to as a favorite. But these are his kids, the ones who put him on the map and he runs some interesting schemes for them to be effective. Navy has a nice record against the spread in bowl games but that was accomplished under paul Johnson who I am sure a lot of you consider the best coach in the game right now. Niumatalolo deserves some credit for getting wins in games this year where his team was outplayed but I don’t think he should be considered in the same class as Grobe. I also think it is an advantage for wake to have more time to prepare for an option attack they have already seen earlier in the year.

Special teams -- edge Wake Forest
Field goal kicking-- looks like swank should be back to about full health and when he is, he is one of the best kickers you could ever want on your side. Swank is well documented so lets look at the navy kid because this is the one area where navy is considerably better year after year in my opinion. Harmon for navy is 17 of 19 including 3 of 4 from 40-49 yards with a made 48 yarder and a made 49 yarder. This team has come a long way from the team that was scared to try fg’s a year ago. But I have to give the edge to swank and wake forest here.

Punting /punt returns--Wake Forest just does not give up big returns at all, ever. Most of their punts have not been returned at all but when they are caught and decide to run they average less than a yard per. So while the punters are equivalent , I like wake coverage teams better.

Blocking kicks--have to pretty much consider this a wash. Wake has 4 blocks and navy has 3 this season.

Strength of schedule-- Edge to Wake.
A significant one , I might add. Of course the two teams already played one another. But in addition to the ACC schedule , wake forest played ole miss, at Baylor and Vanderbilt out of conference. Navy had teams like Army, Towson, SMU and northern Illinois. Navy did play some decent competition at times this year in games vs. Ballst , Rutgers , Pittsburgh , notre dame and air force but they were also significantly outplayed in all of those games.

Wake pass vs. Navy pass d-- Edge Wake Forest.

We know that wake forest can move the ball through the air against Navy because Skinner was 26-40 for 270 yards , gaining 6.8 yards per attempt last time they played. The question becomes can they duplicate that effort without the 4 interceptions from Skinner. Well, I have to believe they can. Skinner threw more interceptions in that game than the rest of his season combined. I already mentioned I like that from a motivational standpoint but I also don’t believe it should be a recurring problem for this game. Wake’s offense as a whole is no great thing to get hyped up over but they do average 188 yards a game through the air. I think Boldin has emerged as a pretty damn competent receiver over the last 5 games of the season and was also effective the first time around vs. the navy defense. I look for him to have success and for skinner to keep the ball in the hands of his own players. Navy does not have a stellar pass defense by any stretch either, though they have seemingly improved over the last portion of the year. Still , they give up 215.7 yards per game at 7.8 yards per opponent pass attempt. And those opponents are completing an amazing 65.5 percent of their pass against the midshipmen. Navy has managed to bail themselves out with interceptions at times , and obviously did so the last time these two teams met.

Wake rush vs. Navy rush d-- Edge Navy
There are several reasons that you have to give navy an edge here in my opinion. The first is that navy stifled the wake run game all day the last time they played. 31 carries for 43 yards at 1.4 yards per carry. They did sack skinner at least 3 times for minus 20 yards and maybe more if I missed one (20just what I noticed going back through the play-by-play ) . With extra time to prepare for the wake misdirection game, I wouldn’t expect wake to suddenly blow navy off the ball and dominate in the run game .. Though I also would not expect their numbers to be anywhere near that bad again. Navy held army to 102 yards rushing and niu to just 135 yards rushing the last two games as well, in earning shutouts in back to back games. Navy rush defense has been pretty solid all year long giving up an average of just 126 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry. Granted they only played three decent run teams this year in army, pitt and air force and two out of those three torched them pretty good in the run game. The third reason is that wake has been about as consistently bad at running the ball as you could imagine...111.58 yards per game at just 2.87 yards per carry. OUCH. Granted they played a lot of very tough rush defenses this year but I have little reason to think that some drastic change occurs and this team is able to pound navy routinely with success.

Navy rush vs. Wake rush d-- edge Navy
I give the edge to navy here, but keep in mind that the edge is much smaller than I think it is for navy in most games. They run the option, the rush yards are coming. But they should not come easily. Wake forest has one of the better rush defenses statistically in the nation. As I may have mentioned already , I think you have to consider the fact that ACC offenses are pretty poor when looking at ACC defensive stats, so I do not think that wake is as good as their stats show. But they are stout. 116 yards per game and 3.40 yards per carry makes wake forest the best rush defense that navy plays all year. In the first matchup Kettani had his best game of the season , rushing for 175 yards that included a 57 yard ball-buster. It should also be noted that Kaipo ( I am not spelling out his name , so he will be called kaipo ) WAS at qb for that game. Much will be made of his return but wake has seen him before.

Wake Forest on paper matches up well with the navy offense and has a three-headed monster of circumstance that helps them in my opinion. The first is that they have seen the option already this year , the second is that they have extra time to prepare for the option and the third is that they have a coach who will prepare them properly. I would expect navy to struggle a little bit more with their rushing game in this one and there is no way you could expect kettani to have those kind of numbers again. Again, navy will get some yards running the ball … it is who they are , and what they do… but I look for decreased numbers over what they did in the first meeting. still i give navy this edge in almost every game.

Navy pass vs. Wake pass d-Edge Wake Forest
Obviously , this is not overly meaningful other than a few points I want to make. Navy doesn’t throw much so the advantage I am speaking of here relates more to the rushing game. Wake has a stellar defensive backfield. Some may recall that I stated in the offseason that I thought the wake secondary was the best in the nation. I was wrong. But they are basically a top twenty pass defense all things considered, though they rank just 28th nationally in total pass yards given up. They are much better in the other statistical categories however: opponent completion percentage, yards per attempt allowed etc etc. This does not come into play as far as defending the pass game much since navy doesn’t pass but the talent back there allows them to zero in on that option attack without fear of getting burned on the outside when navy does pass the ball. Especially since navy likes to throw deep when they do throw and catch players cheating and looking into the offensive backfield. I would think that navy may add some sort of wrinkle for the bowl game as well .. Perhaps a halfback pass of some kind off of their toss sweep.

So the advantage checklist looks something like this

Location - navy
Athletes - wake forest
Motivation - wake forest
Coaching- wake forest
Strength of schedule/conference -wake forest
Special teams - wake forest
Wake pass vs. navy pass d - wake forest
Wake rush vs. navy rush d- navy
Navy rush vs. wake rush d -navy
Navy pass vs. wake pass d -wake

Note that I am trying to put certain advantages and disadvantages into context …. Of course wake forest edge over navy when navy is passing is big for the demon deacons but navy doesn’t pass enough for it to be weighted heavily in my opinion. Also note that while I give the edge to navy rush a ttack vs. wake rush defense , it is this particular matchup that makes me think wake covers this football game. Navy will get over 200 yards rushing so I have to give them the edge but I think the sledding will be tougher than normal. I have stated many times that I believe we make money in the long run betting football where we find the teams that will win the run game battle. Navy wins that battle on both offense and defense but because of their offensive scheme ( one dimensional ) , I really try to look at whether or not I think the opponent can stifle that offense at all ……. And in this case , I think wake forest can.
Let me give you my reasoning on why I think wake forest is a play for this game despite my normal inclinations concerning rush attacks..

1. To defeat option based teams , you generally need intelligent , disciplined players who are coached well. Wake forest applies in all regards here and have the advantages of having seen the midshipmen earlier in the season and having extra time to prepare for the option.

2. To defeat option based teams , you generally need a good run defense. Wake absolutely applies here as well. And as I mention above they have enough quality in the secondary that they can focus on stopping the run with the right numbers.

3. I love all of the intangible factors here for wake forest. Better athletes , motivation , coaching , strength of schedule , public perception ( I never got into how deceiving navy’s record is and how many games they won that they should not have but you could look back through my threads , especially the week heading into the notre dame game , and see where I point out how sneaky bad navy is .. Actually I will cut and paste that post into this thread ) , revenge , the senior class of the wake forest emergence , the hidden yards and points that the wake forest special teams should produce in this game.

4. Regression to the mean. What I mean here is that I feel a lot went right for navy against wake the first time around and most of it seems a little flukish to me. Skinner has thrown just 7 interceptions all year and 4 came against navy that day. Wake forest also fumbled twice in that game. Since that time , against defenses far superior to navy , they have not been fumbling. 0 vs. Clemson , 0 vs. Maryland , 1 vs. miami florida, 1 vs. duke , 1 vs. Virginia , 0 vs. ncst , 0 vs. boston college , and 2 vs. Vanderbilt.

Wake forest never had a game all year in which they threw for as many interceptions as they did vs. navy or had more than the two fumbles that they had vs. navy.

In addition to that, kettani went off on wake forest in that game, marking his best game as a back this year and the most yards given up by wake forest all year to a running back. They also gave up the longest run of the year in that game and in fact they gave up their third longest run of t he year in that game as well. Fine , maybe that is the option attack doing its thing ……….

Navy won that game by 7 . I believe it was the result of a lot of events that we should not expect to occur again based on available information. There is a chance that navy forced all of those errors and abnormal results, in which case, I will lose a wager on wake forest.

Good luck with your action.

Vegas Kyle aka comeonminers