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Navy vs. Utah Poinsettia Bowl Picks & Odds: December 20th, 2007

December 18th, 2007


The 2007-08 College Bowl season kicks off tonight when the Navy Midshipmen and Utah Utes square off in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.

The Midshipmen are coming off another fantastic season that saw them win eight games under the watchful eye of Head Coach Paul Johnson and his staff for the fourth time in six years. Last we saw the Middies, they beat Army for the 6th straight season, which allowed them to capture the Commander in Chief Trophy for the fifth straight season. However, they’ll take the field without HC Johnson for the first time in six years since he accepted the Head Coaching job at Georgia Tech a couple weeks ago. The task of bouncing back from losing the Meineke Car Care Bowl to Boston College last season is now in the hands of Johnson ‘s longtime assistant Ken Niumatalolo.

As for the Utes, they got off to a very slow start this season only winning one of their first four games, but they scratched together eight straight wins before the “Holy War” with BYU in their final game of the season. They had the Cougars on the ropes, but allowed a game winning TD drive in the final 30 seconds and suffered their first loss since September in the process.

Utah opened up as 10-point favorites in this spot with the ‘Total’ set at 67.5. Navy money has lowered that spread to 8 and the ‘Total’ has been bet down to 65.

This is the highest posted ‘Total’ of the season for the Utes, but it’s well warranted. Navy boasts an atrocious stop unit that’s had problems keeping its opponent off the scoreboard (37 PPG), save for Army who they just flat out own right now. Utah runs a power brand of football offensively, much like the Middies, but they can pass the ball unlike the aforementioned Midshipmen. That being said, I’m expecting the final score of this game to come in on the low side of this ‘Total’. Utah by no means wants to take part in a shoot-out with this Navy club. If it happens, they have a much better chance of losing this game outright. Instead, the Utes will look to pound the ball offensively with RB Mack and take what it can get from its passing game when the Middies adjust for the run. Defensively, they’ll look to make amends after Air Force (another option/wishbone attack) gouged them way back in September. They’ve only allowed opponents to rush for 91 YPG their L/3 contests, and Navy’s offense will certainly start to press if the Utes force them to pass the ball (Navy offense ranked dead last in the country passing the ball). Look for P Louis Sakoda to play a major role in this game as well pinning the Midshipmen deep in their own territory all game long forcing them to go the length of the field on a number of occasions. This will simply wear the Middies offensive attack out, and play right into the hands of the Utes who want to be very physical tonight and control the tempo of the game from the opening kick.