Dec. 31, 2009 | 3:30 PM EST, Houston, TX, on ESPN
It seems that dominant running teams always wind up playing their mirror opposites. (See Air force vs. Houston.) This is another case pitting the nation’s No. 4 rushing attack against the most prolific pass-catch combination in the country.
This is also a contest of David vs. Goliath wherein Navy will try to out-scheme a Missouri team that has challenged for Big 12 supremacy the last few years. Navy never quits, and if they can win this one it will be its most impressive of the season. Don’t put it past them…they almost beat Ohio State in Week One.
Navy is one of those teams you just have to root for. Sure they are one of the service academies, but how can you not root for a team that eschews ego the way they do? Teams know what is coming and they dare the opponent to stop them.
It is not surprising that they have wrung up another strong bowl season, but what is surprising is how they have fared against the better teams on their schedule; nearly beating OSU, beating Notre Dame and Wake Forest. They will not quit and the nation will get to see how much fun Ricky Dobbs can be. He only accounted for 29 TDs this year.
The Tigers' aerial attack was supposed to fade minus Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and Chase Coffman. They simply reloaded, leaning on Blaine Gabbert and Danario Alexander. Alexander is hardly a Maclin clone: He is 6′4″ and uses his big body to get open and bust tackles in the secondary.
Navy has nobody in its secondary who can physically match up with him so look for a lot of jump balls. On defense, this will be an interesting challenge for LB Sean Witherspoon, who is trying to improve his draft stock. Scouts will be looking to see how he reacts to the Navy attack.
No matter how much success they have running the ball I think Navy is going to have trouble punching it in against the Tigers, and their passing offense is going to be too much to handle. All in all, the Tigers are going to be a tough order for the Middies…but they won't quit.
Missouri Tigers: – 38
Navy Midshipmen: – 21
I have been surprised to see this spread drop. Perhaps the odds makers see something I don’t (it wouldn’t be the first time). At less than a TD you have to like Mizzou. Its offense can be pretty explosive if Gabbert is given time.
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