WHO: Navy (10-2) vs. Kansas State (8-4)
WHAT: The AutoZone Liberty Bowl
WHEN: December 31 at 3:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN
BUY TICKETS: Click Here
THE SKINNY: After a few down years, Navy bounced back in a big way this season. Although the Midshipmen didn’t play their way into the AAC championship game this season, the Midshipmen put together a 10-2 record that was worthy of Top-25 consideration and capped by a victory over rival Army to snap a losing streak to the Black Knights. Malcolm Perry has been one of the biggest reasons for the success this season and he will be looking to control the football against the Kansas State defense.
Perry rushed for 1,804 yards and 21 touchdowns this season and he mixed in over 1,000 passing yards and six more touchdowns. Perry running the triple-option has been as effective as ever for Navy, but the Wildcats will bring a pretty solid defense that will brace for Navy’s style of play.
Kansas State enjoyed the first season under new head coach Chris Klieman, who will coach in his first postseason bowl game. Of course, Klieman is no stranger to success in the postseason given his success at North Dakota State. But now he will channel a full playoff effort and preparation into one game. Needless to say, Kansas State should be prepared as well as it can possibly be. Finding a way to get quarterback Skyler Thompson in a groove should be the key, although the Wildcats may be able to handle their own weight on the offensive line with the running game too. Thompson will work the ground after rushing for 10 touchdowns and rushing for 402 yards, but handing off to James Gilbert will be the first option on the ground.
Expect plenty of rushing yards in this one, which could make for a pretty brisk pace with the clock always moving. But Navy’s option may be more of a drain on the Wildcats.
THE PICK: Navy 26, Kansas State 23