In a battle between two teams that revolve around discipline, the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl features Arizona State University and Navy as both teams come off huge victories over their rivals.
The ASU Sun Devils take their 7-5 record to San Francisco after defeating the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson with a fourth quarter comeback that won’t soon be forgotten.
On the other sideline will be the Navy Midshipmen (7-4), who also rallied from behind to take down Army three weeks ago on national television.
With ASU and Navy led by Todd Graham and Ken Niumatalolo, respectively, the game features two programs that pride themselves on discipline, teamwork, and hard work.
While their principles may be similar, the two teams feature very drastic differences in offensive style. The Sun Devils run the spread offense, while Navy has the triple-option attack.
Led by redshirt sophomore Taylor Kelly, ASU puts multiple receivers on the field while running a fast-paced offense that’s put up big numbers this season. Kelly sports a 65.9 pass-completion percentage, which is four points above the school record set last season by Brock Osweiler.
Tight end Chris Coyle has also been a large benefactor of this offense as he has five touchdowns and 53 receptions on the year, one score and three catches shy of the ASU records for the position.
Team captain and running back Cameron Marshall will be playing his last collegiate game in the bowl as he wraps up a somewhat disappointing 2012 season. He has handed the reins to transfer Marion Grice and freshman D.J. Foster, as the duo combined for 1000 yards on the ground and 23 total touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball for the Sun Devils, Will Sutton is seeking to cap his magnificent year in which he was named a First-Team All-American and was awarded the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year. Sutton has totaled 10.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss which both lead the team.
For the Midshipmen, Niumatalolo will turn to star freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Running the option offense, Reynolds leads the team in touchdowns with 10 on the ground and eight in the air. He’s also third on his team in rushing yards with 628.
The other two heads of the Navy attack are senior Gee Gee Green and sophomore Noah Copeland. Green averages 7.1 yards per attempt while Copeland has five touchdowns and 691 rushing yards on the year.
Defensively, senior linebacker Keegan Wetzel sets the pace for Navy. Wetzel, who, according to the media guide is the only player in the FBS to have recorded a perfect SAT score, has recorded 74 tackles, 15 for a loss, and seven sacks. For Niumatalolo the future is bright, as he has clinched a winning season with a young team and will have Reynolds for the next three years as well. This marks Navy’s fourth bowl appearance in five years.
Todd Graham will be looking to finish his first year with Arizona State on a positive note. Since arriving to the program just last December, Graham has instilled a new culture for the team, and a win can cap off ASU’s most successful season since 2008.