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The Armed Forces Bowl: Navy Midshipmen vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/30/13

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-4) at Navy Midshipmen (8-4)

College Football: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 11:45 am (Amon Carter Stadium)

The Line: Navy Midshipmen -7 -- Over/Under: 60 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN

Storyline: Keenan Reynolds and Navy collide with Middle Tennessee State in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Monday with both sides looking to build on strong finishes to their regular seasons.

The Breakdown: The Midshipmen kicked off their 2013 with consecutive wins before dropping four of their next six, but competed closely in all of their losses. Navy went down to the wire against Toledo and a 25th-ranked Notre Dame team, with both needing late-game heroics to turn away the Midshipmen. Navy would then end the season on a four-game run, knocking off San Jose State 58-52 in a triple overtime thriller before closing the season with a  34-7 victory in its annual showdown with Army.

The Armed Forces Bowl: Navy Midshipmen vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/30/13

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Midshipmen boast the nation’s number two ground game at 322 yards per outing and its 32nd best scoring offense at 34.3 points per contest with a triple option attack led by sophomore QB Keenan Reynolds. Reynold’s rushed for 1,260 yards and 29 touchdowns (a new single-season record for a QB) , while passing for 1,038 yards and 8 touchdowns, accounting for a whopping 37 TDs. Navy also topped the FBS with 47 rushing TDs.  On the defensive side, the Midshipmen own the country’s 59th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 25.9 points per game and senior LB Cody Peterson (124 Tackles) is this unit’s standout.

Middle Tennessee State, meanwhile, also ended the season on fire after a first half peppered with losses. A solid 3-1 start in their first four gave way to a three-game slide, in which the Blue Raiders struggled to reach 200 yards of offense in losses to BYU, East Carolina and North Texas. Middle Tennessee rebounded strong, however, and reeled of five straight, highlighted by a 51-49 barnburner over Marshall that ended with a game-winning TD pass as time expired.

The Blue Raiders own the country’s 24th-ranked rushing offense at 208.3 yards per contest, its 57th-ranked scoring offense at 30.9 points per game and the 85th-ranked passing game at 207.4 yards. Senior QB Logan Kilgore (2,289 YDs, 16 TDs, 11 INTs), a three-year starter, runs the show. He’ll be joined in the backfield by sophomore Jordan Parker (741 YDs, 6 TDs) and junior Reggie Wheatley (631 YDs, 3 TDs), who combined to rush for 1,372 yards and 9 touchdowns. Defensively, Middle Tennessee brings the nation’s 64th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 26.4 points per outing

Rick’s Pick: The line in this one is currently set at -7 for Navy with a 60-point total. This sets up almost perfectly for the Midshipmen. Everyone knows they’re gonna run the ball, but outside of Western Kentucky (somehow), nobody’s been able to keep them under 200 yards rushing. And with their 99th-ranked run defense, Middle Tennessee doesn’t appear capable of bucking that trend. Look for Navy to cover.

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Navy -7

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