Armed Forces Bowl Preview
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs Navy Midshipmen
The Armed Forces Bowl was originally slated to be Navy versus a Big 12 programs, but the conference fell short of eligible teams. It opened the door for an at-large appearance by Louisiana Tech. Both the Midshipmen and Bulldogs lost their conference championship game, but there shouldn’t be much of a hangover effect when these two teams meet on December 23 for the Armed Forces Bowl (Enter Contets).
Despite a stark contrast in styles, these two teams rank among the top 20 in scoring offense. Navy’s option attack averages 39.1 points per game, while Louisiana Tech averages 44 per contest. The Bulldogs feature a prolific passing attack, headlined by quarterback Ryan Higgins (37 TDs) and two standout receivers (Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson). The Midshipmen counter with one of the nation’s top ground attacks (327.5 ypg). Still, quarterback Will Worth was lost for the season due to an injury suffered against Temple in the American Athletic Conference title game. With Worth out for the year, sophomore Zach Abey will step into the starting role. Expect a lot of points between these two teams at the Armed Force Bowl.
ABOUT LOUISIANA TECH (8-5, 6-2 C-USA)
Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Higgins was named Conference USA MVP after throwing for 4,208 yards and 37 TDs against eight interceptions for the nation’s fifth-ranked scoring offense (44 points per game) and third-ranked passing unit (359.8 yards). Navy’s rushing game is fourth in the country at 310.9 yards, making for an intriguing clash of styles.
Higgins has one of the nation’s top targets in senior Trent Taylor, who is second in the country in receptions (124), third in yards (1,570) and among 31 players with at least 10 receiving TDs, although he has only two in his last eight games. Junior Carlos Henderson had 52 fewer grabs but nearly the same number of yards (1,406) and ranks tied for second among FBS players with 17 receiving scores. Junior running back Jarred Craft had a total of 31 yards on the ground over the last two games but gained 1,350 total yards this season and 13 TDs, nine of which came on the ground.
ABOUT NAVY (9-4, 7-1 AAC)
Navy has not been the same team since losing senior quarterback Will Worth early in the loss to Temple on December 3. Sophomore Zach Abey has run for three scores since taking over but has thrown four interceptions in the two games. Abey and his crew will need to get some early points in order to prevent a situation where they need to play catch up through the air opposite Louisiana Tech’s relentless passing attack.
The Midshipmen will be challenged early and often by Higgins after allowing 25 TDs through the air and ranking 122nd in the country in passing efficiency defense. It’ll be up to Abey and junior running back Chris High (500 rushing yards, five TDs) to maintain possession and burn the clock. Senior fullback Shawn White had 310 of his 443 yards over the final five games, as well as four of his seven scores, while senior wideout Jamir Tillman has team highs of 38 catches and 615 receiving yards.