Navy Midshipmen

Louisiana Tech wide receiver Trent Taylor (5) runs for a touchdown after a catch past Navy cornerback Jarid Ryan (9) and linebacker Brandon Jones (3) during first half of the Armed Forces Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Louisiana Tech tops Navy in wild Armed Forces Bowl shootout

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Louisiana Tech and Navy have opposite approaches to offense… but they both agreed to score plenty of points on Friday.

The Bulldogs managed to put up just a tad more in the Armed Forces Bowl and won 48-45 in an fun postseason shootout on Friday.

Quarterback Ryan Higgins kicked off the scoring for Tech back in the first quarter with a rushing touchdown but did most of his damage with his arm, passing for 409 yards and four scores. Tailbacks Jarred Craft and Boston Scott both added a combined 96 yards on the ground while the latter also found the end zone.

Receiver Trent Taylor — FBS’s third-leading receiver coming into today — closed his career out in style with yet another remarkable performance for the senior. He finished the bowl game with 12 catches for 233 yards and two touchdown receptions and was a tough cover despite some mucky conditions in Fort Worth, Texas. Fellow wideout Carlos Henderson also chipped in with another 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Navy quarterback Zach Abey did all he could to deliver a victory but ended up just a little short operating the triple-option and was knocked out of the game with an injury with just four minutes to go in the game. The third-stringer made his second start and threw for 159 yards and a touchdown while topping the century mark on the ground with 114 yards rushing and two more scores.

The Midshipmen wound up with over 450 yards of offense and averaged over seven yards a play for the game but simply couldn’t come up with enough stops on the defensive end to capture the win.

Instead it was the Bulldogs who emerged victorious in a high-scoring affair between the runners-up of the American and Conference USA that was certainly one of the better bowl games so far this year.

Louisiana Tech on top in the Armed Forces Bowl after a high-scoring first half

BOWLING GREEN, KY - DECEMBER 03: Trent Taylor #5 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs runs the ball during the game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during the CUSA Championship game at Houchens-Smith Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Western Kentucky defeated Louisiana Tech 58-44. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Just about everybody expected a high-scoring affair between the Conference USA and AAC runners-up and that’s just what the two teams delivered in the first half as Louisiana Tech led 31-24 over Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl on Friday afternoon.

The Bulldogs kicked off the scoring after getting setup by a great return to open the game and needed just four plays to find the end zone initially on a Ryan Higgins touchdown run. The quarterback would finish the first two quarters with 215 yards and three touchdowns through the air, including a 51 yard scoring strike with under 30 seconds left. Tailback Jarred Craft chipped in with another 30 yards on the ground on the rare times when Tech didn’t drop back to pass.

Navy also found some surprising success through the air as third-string signal-caller Zach Abey completed three passes for 111 yards and a touchdown to go with his 62 yards and two scores on the ground in the triple option offense. Seven Midshipmen ended up getting a carry in the half as the team had one of their more balanced efforts this season.

As much scoring as there was, amazingly there was also three punts and a turnover among a whopping 15 combined drives. Given the defenses involved in this one, more fireworks are sure to be in store for one of the more fun bowl games set to be played this postseason.

Both squads have very different approaches to moving the ball but a 1,000 yards of offense and over 100 points look very possible by the time this one is over despite some dreary conditions in Fort Worth.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 23 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Head coach Frank Solich of the Ohio Bobcats motions from the sidelines during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on September 1, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 23 bowl menu, which not only gives us our first multi-bowl GameDay since the opening Saturday of the postseason but also the first matchup involving a team ranked in the College Football Playoff Top 25.

WHO: Eastern Michigan (7-5) vs. Old Dominion (9-3)
WHAT: The 3rd Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Nearly three decades ago, Eastern Michigan won the first bowl game in the first postseason appearance in the football program’s history.  Since then, the Eagles have been searching for the school’s second postseason win — mainly because they haven’t played in a bowl game in the ensuing 29 years.  Chris Creighton has led a remarkable turnaround in Ypsilanti, with EMU winning just three combined games his first two seasons before the jump to seven in Year 3; those seven wins are the most since they won the same number in 1989.  An eighth win would be just the third time they’ve hit at least that mark in their FBS history.  Old Dominion is also in uncharted territory as they didn’t become an FBS program until 2014, and this will mark the Monarchs’ first-ever bowl appearance.  The two teams come into their first-ever matchup on different trajectories, with ODU riding a five-game winning streak in winning eight of its last nine — all of those wins came by double digits — while EMU went 3-4 after 4-1 start.  Both the Eagles and Monarchs average more than 30 points per game offensively, while their defenses aren’t in the top half of the country in keeping the opposition off the scoreboard.  The final scores in the first two Bahamas Bowls, also featuring Conference USA and MAC teams, were 49-48 and 45-31.  I’m guessing this game won’t deviate too much from those previous offensive matchups.  If there is one player to watch, it might be ODU’s David Washington.  Washington (28-4) was one of just three starting quarterbacks at the FBS level who threw 28 or more touchdowns and four or fewer interceptions during the 2016 regular season, the others being Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell (32-3) and North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky (28-4).
THE LINE: Eastern Michigan, +4
THE PREDICTION: Eastern Michigan 37, Old Dominion 36

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WHO: Louisiana Tech (8-5) vs. No. 25 Navy (9-4)
WHAT: The 14th Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Navy, +6
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Ohio (8-5) vs. Troy (9-3)
WHAT: The 18th Dollar General Bowl
WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This might be my most favorite not-even-remotely relevant fun fact of the entire 2016 postseason: Ohio head coach Frank Solich (72) is exactly twice as old as his Troy counterpart Neal Brown (36).  The former Nebraska coach, though, has turned his Bobcats into an annual postseason presence.  After just one bowl game his first four years, OU will be playing in its seventh the last eight years.  While a postseason game has become an annual expectation in Athens, Brown will be leading Troy, playing in its home state, to its first bowl appearance since 2010 in just his second season with the program.  OU won by 16 points at Kansas — hey, technically, they are a Power Five team — lost by just nine points at Tennessee and then took Western Michigan, unbeaten and headed for a New Year’s Six game, to the brink in losing the MAC championship game by six points.  Ohio’s last three losses?  By a combined 20 points to three teams that will be bowling this season.  Then there’s Troy, which held a first-quarter lead on College Football Playoff semifinalist Clemson in Week 2 and was down just 13-10 at the half before dropping a 30-24 road decision to the No. 2 team in the country.  A win here would give the Trojans their first-ever 10-win season in their 16 years as an FBS program.  If the latter portion of the 2016 season is any indication this could be a close game as eight of Ohio’s last nine games were decided by 10 points or less, with seven of those decided by seven or less.  There might be one certainty in this game: don’t expect much when it comes to the ground game as Troy is 19th nationally in stopping the run (123.7) while Ohio is seventh (105.8).
THE LINE: Ohio, +4
THE PREDICTION: Ohio 24, Troy 20

Is America falling back in love with the Army-Navy Game? TV rating rises again

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10:  Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw #17 of the Army Black Knights celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of their 21-17 win over the Navy Midshipmen at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Whatever the reason may be, the Army-Navy Game may be seeing new life as a football product. Saturday’s contest between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen scored the highest TV rating for an Army-Navy Game in 22 years, according to a press release from CBS, who airs the annual rivalry game.

This year’s Army-Navy Game drew an overnight rating of 5.6, which is the sixth-highest overnight rating for a college football game this season (right behind Clemson-Louisville and ahead of Ohio State-Wisconsin, both primetime games). The rating was up 10 percent over last year’s Army-Navy Game, which was the highest TV rating for the game since 1996.

So what was the draw to this year’s game? It being the final college football game called by Verne Lundquist on CBS surely played a sentimental role for some, as Lundquist signed off for the last time after years in the booth. It also helped that this was Army’s best season in some time and many figured it would be Army’s best chance to defeat their rivals from Annapolis in quite some time. Obviously, that was true as Army snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Midshipmen and celebrated with their fans on the field afterward.

The more telling trend for the game is the decision made to place the game on its own day after conference championship weekend. Yes, it may present a headache for the bowl process, but the game is rich with history, tradition and pageantry that deserves its own national spotlight without being overshadowed by conference championship games later in the day. Navy’s move to the American Athletic Conference has not impeded that tradition, and the conference stands to benefit from that exposure as well (especially if Navy wins).

Helmet sticker to Awful Announcing.

Army ends 14 game losing streak with turnover-filled victory over No. 25 Navy

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Andrew McLean #58 of the Army Black Knights tackles Zach Abey #9 of the Navy Midshipmen in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The streak is over.

After 14 consecutive losses, countless heartbreaks and some of the most amazing moments in college football on either side, Army finally chased away their demons and beat rival Navy 21-17 on Saturday night in Baltimore.

Turnovers were the hallmark in the game for both sides: a whopping seven combined, along with a handful of other close calls that nearly added to that total. Three of the first four drives in the game ended with a giveaway and a pair of fumbles in the third quarter by Army allowed their rivals to quickly get back into a game they had nearly given away early on.

It was still a rough first half for Navy starting quarterback Zach Abey, who was in the stands at this game last year and was the team’s third-stringer most of the season under center. However the signal-caller pressed into starting duty because of injuries picked things up after halftime and helped the Midshipmen storm back to take the lead in the fourth quarter with a 41 yard touchdown to cap a run of 17 straight points.

But Army would not be denied a victory, which included an appearance by President-elect Donald Trump in the stands and in the CBS broadcast booth. The team put together an 80 yard drive over 12 plays that featured a key 4th down conversion before Ahmad Bradshaw (51 yards rushing, one touchdown) plowed through the defense to find the end zone from nine yards out. That helped the Black Knights re-take the lead with just six minutes remaining.

Navy would go three-and-out on the next drive thanks to a big defensive stand and Army milked away the rest of the clock to secure a win that was their first in the series since 2001.

That set off a raucous celebration that included a field storming by hundreds of cadets and, no doubt, plenty of cheers from the armed forces around the world looking on.