Fight Hunger Bowl 2012: Biggest X-Factors in Navy vs. Arizona State Showdown

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 8: Keenan Reynolds #19 of the Navy Midshipmen throws a pass during a game against the Army Black Knights on December 8, 2012 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Navy won 17-13. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Something has to give on Saturday, when two surging programs square off in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Navy (8-4) has won two straight games coming into its postseason matchup with Arizona State (7-5), who has also won its last two games. The Sun Devils will be heavy, two-touchdown favorites on Saturday though, which means that a pair of X-factors must step up for the Midshipmen to have a shot at concluding their impressive season with a bowl victory.

Before kickoff arrives, let's take a closer look at the biggest X-factors for both teams in Saturday's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.


Keenan Reynolds, Navy, QB

The last time we saw the freshman signal-caller in action, he was leading the Midshipmen to a win over Army on Dec. 8th in Philadelphia.

Reynolds completed 10-of-17 passes for 130 yards, and rushed 15 times for 43 yards and the game-winning touchdown in what was his most impressive performance to date. The first-year quarterback demonstrated poise beyond his years in the win, and has now raised expectations dramatically in what will be his 13th career college game this weekend.

Never mind the pressure though. If Reynolds can use his legs to keep plays alive against Arizona State on Saturday, similarly to how he did against the Black Knights, the sky is the limit for Navy.


D.J. Foster, Arizona State, RB

Arizona State freshman running back D.J. Foster is a versatile playmaker for the Sun Devils, and a player that will need to be at his very best on Saturday in order for Arizona State to end its season on a high note.

Foster is the Sun Devils' third-leading rusher (492 rushing yards) and second-leading receiver (522 receiving yards). The freshman also has six total touchdowns this season, and is averaging a score every 21 touches.

Foster is averaging 13 carries for 50 yards in Arizona State's last two wins this season.

So look for Todd Graham's side to come out on top if the Sun Devils back can record a similar stat line on Saturday.


Keegan Wetzel, Navy, LB

Senior linebacker Keegan Wetzel is a disruptive force for Navy's defense. He currently leads the team with 15 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in 2012.

At 6'3", 220 pounds, Wetzel has tremendous physical attributes for a college linebacker, and is coming off of his best performance of the year against Army three weeks ago, when he recorded 11 tackles, seven of them solo.

Wetzel also managed a sack against the Black Knights, as seen in the above video. This play demonstrates his ability to rush the passer, bring pressure and ultimately take down the ball carrier.

He may not be playing on Sundays in the future, but Wetzel is a supreme talent at the college level and will be a huge X-factor for the Midshipmen against one of their toughest tests on the gridiron this year.


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