WHO: Navy (6-6) vs. Virginia (6-6)
WHAT: The 10th Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE SKINNY: Navy will get a chance to play a home game in the bowl season, but this is just about the perfect matchup the Military Bowl would have hoped for. With one team from Maryland and the other from Virginia, the Military Bowl should have quite a lively atmosphere this season as the Midshipmen play at home against the improving Virginia Cavaliers from the ACC.
Virginia became bowl eligible for the first time since 2011 in the second season under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. While the Cavs still have a good amount of room to improve on offense, quarterback Kurt Benkert has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. Virginia will need to have a good showing from their quarterback against an average Navy pass defense if the Cavaliers are to win their first bowl game since 2005.
The key for Navy will be milking as much of the clock as possible and wearing down Virginia’s defense. Malcolm Perry made a splash in the Army-Navy Game as Navy’s quarterback and looks to continue to grow as Navy’s starting quarterback in the Military Bowl leading the Midshipmen with their signature option offense. Don’t expect Abey to throw a pass too often, but when he does he will have to be careful not to make a mistake. Virginia’s defense has a couple of first-team All-ACC players in linebacker Micah Kiser (this year’s Campbell Trophy winner) and safety Quin Blanding that could pose trouble for Navy.
Virginia has seen an option offense before this season, and that one worked out well for them. Virginia took a 40-36 victory against Georgia Tech in the second half of the season. This one could develop into a similarly high scoring game, but don’t count on that being the case. Navy will work to keep this one a little lower scoring with the hope of being able to sustain some long scoring drives in the second half on their home field. In the end, however, Virgina may have a few more big plays go in their favor.
THE PICK: Virginia 27, Navy 23
The No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC) overcame a disaster of a first half to keep their undefeated season going. On Saturday against Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC), the Hurricanes looked sluggish for one half and allowed Virginia to capitalize on big plays to a 28-14 lead, but Miami roared back with 30 unanswered points to improve on the best start since the last time Miami played for a national championship. Miami topped Virginia 44-28.
Miami players got to wear the famous turnover chain twice in the game, but the biggest turnover may have come with Jaguan Johnson‘s 30-yard interception for a game-tying score in the third quarter. The pick-six knotted the game at 28-28 in a wild third quarter, and Miami never looked back from that point on. Miami took the lead late in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by and Malik Rosier and Travis Homer added rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Hurricanes cemented the win.
Rosier was picked off twice in the game, but he ended his day with 210 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His Virginia counterpart, Kurt Benkert, actually had a fantastic afternoon with 28-of-37 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Until the lone interception thrown by Benkert, he looked more than capable to lead Virginia to an upset on the road. But Virginia needed more out of the running game and could not keep the big plays coming in the fourth quarter as Miami was taking control of the game.
Miami’s 10-0 start is the best start for the Hurricanes since playing for the BCS national championship in the 2002 season. This is also Miami’s first double-digit win season since 2003. That makes this Miami’s first 10-win season since joining the ACC. And they may not be done just yet.
Before making their first trip to the ACC Championship Game in two weeks, Miami will first make a business trip to Pittsburgh for the regular season finale against the Panthers. The Panthers were eliminated from postseason eligibility Saturday afternoon with a road loss to Virginia Tech, dropping Pitt to 4-7 on the year. Virginia will take on the Hokies next week in their regular-season finale on Friday night.
After winning a big game in the national spotlight a week ago, the No. 3 Miami Hurricanes were faced with the challenge of playing a noon game at home against an opponent that doesn’t bring nearly the same spotlight last week’s opponent did. And for that, Virginia took advantage early on. Miami came back to tie the game at 14-14, but a late touchdown pass has given Virgina the lead at halftime, 21-14.
Virginia used a pair of big pass plays to take a surprising 14-0 lead on the Hurricanes in the first quarter. Kurt Benkert has been nearly flawless in the first half, and two long touchdown plays to Joe Reed and Olamide Zaccheaus caught Miami off guard.
Miami quarterback Malik Rosier eventually warmed up though with a pair of touchdowns of his own. On the ensuing drive after falling behind 14-0, Rosier got Miami on the board with a 10-yard pass to Ahmonn Richards. That came after Virginia attempted a surprise onside kick on Miami, only to have ACC officials controversially rule the ball to be Miami’s when it appeared Virginia may have recovered. Miami was forced to punt on their next offensive possession, but a special teams fumble by Virginia punt returner Daniel Hamm gave the Hurricanes the ball at the 36-yard line, and Rosier went for the tie with a pass to Dayall Harris to tie the game up on the first play from scrimmage following the turnover.
In the final minute of the half, Benkert again took to the air for a big strike, this time to Andre Levrone. After officials ruled the 33-yard pass to the end zone incomplete, a quick instant replay review overturned the call and confirmed Levrone had full possession of the football before the ball came loose at the end of the play. And just like that, Virginia took the lead into halftime.
We now have quite an interesting second half coming up in Miami as far as the College Football Playoff may be concerned.
East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert will pursue a transfer to end his college football career at another program, East Carolina announced Monday. Benkert is scheduled to graduate from East Carolina this spring, which will make him eligible to compete right away at another FBS program this fall according to NCAA graduate transfer rules. It was not announced where Benkert will transfer.
“I am saddened to announce that I am transferring from East Carolina University,” Benkert said in a statement released by ECU. “I am very blessed for the opportunity that ECU has given me in obtaining my degree, and am forever thankful for the support from such great coaches, teammates, faculty and fans. This was a very tough decision that came from a lot of sleepless nights and conversations from those close to me. With that being said, I feel it is in my best interest to explore other options for graduate school. Thank you again Pirate Nation for the support throughout the last three years, it was never unnoticed and I will forever be grateful for it.”
Benkert was lost for the 2015 season to a right knee injury. With Benkert unable to play for the Pirates, Blake Kemp ended up being East Carolina’s top quarterback with 2,658 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. The Pirates now have four quarterbacks on the roster, including Philip Nelson, who was dismissed from Rutgers after a transfer from Minnesota amid some serious legal trouble). Nelson is the likely leading candidate for the starting job for East Carolina.
East Carolina named Kurt Benkert the team’s starting quarterback earlier this month. Now he is done for the 2015 season.
East Carolina announced today the sophomore quarterback will be sidelined for the 2015 season as a result of a right knee injury. The injury is believed to have occurred during a practice on Tuesday. Discomfort in the knee following practice led to additional evaluations on Wednesday, which have now led to the unfortunate injury update.
“Everyone in college football is affected by injuries and we are no different,” ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill said in a released statement. “I am disappointed for Kurt because he has worked so hard for this opportunity. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team and we’ll be asking everyone to step up.”
With the Pirates now back to searching for a new quarterback (Benkert was to replace Shane Carden), McNeil will evaluate juniors Blake Kemp and Cody Keith in what little time remains before the start of the new season. Keith is just coming back from his own injury, having come back from a foot injury earlier this summer.