Midshipmen’s foe for BHAFB to be announced this Sunday

Continuing to prepare for another date with destiny in this month’s Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, the 2013 U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen football team has some unfinished regular-season business as they continue to prepare for next Saturday’s annual showdown with the U.S. Military Academy (Army) in Philadelphia.

Earning a 7-4 record so far this season, Navy, playing with poised passion and dedicated determination this season, will learn this weekend who their opponent will be in the upcoming 11th Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Navy will meet a representative of the 12-team Mountain West Conference in the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to be played in Fort Worth, on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. The 11th edition of this postseason college football bowl game will kick off at 10:45 a.m. (CT) from Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of TCU. The game will air on ESPN, ESPN Radio and will be carried worldwide on the Armed Forces Network.

Split into two divisions (Mountain and West), the 2013 Mountain West features 12 total teams this year and will have teams in six college football bowl games at the end of the regular season, including the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

While the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is played in honor of the armed forces and has previously hosted the U.S. Military Academy (2010) and the U.S. Air Force Academy (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012), this is the first year that the bowl is contracted with the Naval Academy.

COACH’S LOG: 47-30
Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo is in his sixth season at the helm of the Midshipmen and 16th overall with Navy football. During his first five-plus years as head coach at Navy, Niumatalolo’s Mids have compiled a record of 47-30 (.610) including appearances in four post-season bowl games plus this year’s BHAFB. He moved into third all-time in Navy career coaching wins this season. Niumatalolo has also been selected one of seven men in the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. He will be inducted Jan. 23, 2014 prior to the NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

With more to come, suffice it to say that another classic in the long-time rivalry between Navy and Army is on the horizon as arguably the No. 1 rivalry in all of college football will be played on Dec. 14 when the Mids and the Black Knights meet on the gridiron field of battle for the 114th time. Navy holds the all-time series edge, 57-49-7, including last year’s 17-13 win over Army in Philadelphia. Both noted triple-option teams, Army leads the nation in rushing with 323.6 yards per game while Navy is currently third with 320.1 ypg.

With the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy on the line, the Navy vs. Army matchup is scheduled to kickoff Saturday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. (ET) on the FieldTurf of Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Television Network and broadcast on the Navy Radio Network.

For more Navy football info, visit www.navysports.com.

While recognized as one of the must-see games of every year, Athlon Sports Publishers has developed its own list to greatest college football rivalries and guess which game is consider their No. 1 rivalry in the sport? Here are there words regarding the Army/Navy rivalry…

1. Army-Navy (Navy leads 57-49-7) From Athlon Sports Publishers…
“Go ahead and try to attend this game without experiencing a surge of patriotism. If the Super Hornets’ flyover doesn’t get you, the Army paratroopers will. If you miss the parades of Cadets and Midshipmen, then the non-stop spirit videos on the big board will stir your senses. By game’s end, no matter what the score, America wins. That may seem hokey to some, but they haven’t been there. Trust us Army-Navy is college football in its purest state. Today, that’s something worth celebrating. Fans of the teams thirst for victory, and so do the players, who are truly playing for their fellow students. Afterward, they rejoin their classmates in preparation for military service, not an NFL career. For 364 days of the year, Army and Navy are on the same team. For three hours on a chilled December afternoon, they represent every soldier or sailor who has ever donned a uniform, walked a post or sailed into the dark of night. The football has been pretty good over the years, too. Five Heisman winners have participated in the rivalry, and dozens of Hall of Famers have taken the field representing the academies. Though Navy has dominated the scoreboard over the past decade, the game remains a huge draw and a still thrills fans across the country. Most important, it pits future military and government leaders against each other as they fight for their Academies and provide the country with an afternoon of prideful competition.”

Record: 7-4 Home: 5-0 • Away: 2-4 • Neutral: 0-0

Date Opponent Result/Time Television Attendance Series History
W No. 1 9-7 at Indiana W, 41-35 Big Ten Network 47,013 Series tied, 2-2
W No. 2 9-14 Delaware W, 51-7 CBS Sports Network 36,208 Navy Leads, 10-7
L 9-28 at Western Kentucky L, 7-19 ESPNEWS 19,813 Navy Leads, 2-1
W No. 3 10-5 Air Force W, 28-10 CBS Network 38,225 Air Force Leads, 27-19
L 10-12 at Duke L, 7-35 Raycom Sports/ACC Network 23,749 Navy Leads, 20-15-5
L 44-45 (2 OT) 10-19 at Toledo ESPNEWS 18,221 Toledo Leads, 3-1
W No. 4 10-26 Pittsburgh W, 24-21 CBS Sports Network 37,094 Pittsburgh Leads 22-14-3
L 11-2 at Notre Dame L, 34-38 NBC 80,795 Notre Dame Leads, 74-12-1
W No. 5 11-9 Hawai’i W, 42-28 CBS Sports Network 33,327 Hawai’i Leads, 2-1
W No. 6 11-16 South Alabama W, 42-14 CBS Sports Network 33,086 Navy Leads 1-0
W No. 7 11-22 at San Jose State W, 58-52, CBS Sports Network 16,876 San Jose State Leads, 2-1
12-14 Army+ 3 p.m. CBS Navy Leads, 57-49-7
+Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, Pa.)   All Times Eastern

Since 2002, nobody has run the triple-option offense better than Navy has in that period. Entering Friday’s game against San Jose State, Navy is third in the nation among NCAA Division I-A schools in rushing this season, averaging 320.1 yards per game, 19th nationally in fourth down conversions at .652 percent, sixth nationally in third down conversions at .531, first in the nation in fewest penalties per game with an average of 2.82 penalties per game and first in fewest yards penalized with an average of 23.1 yards per game. The Mids are also tied for first nationally in turnovers, giving up only eight in 11 games.

After an amazing game against San Jose State on Nov. 22 with eight total touchdowns, including seven rushing, a career-best 240 net yards rushing, individually, sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds continues to lead the Navy offense. With his sterling performance against San Jose State, Reynolds became just the fourth player in Navy history with 1000-plus passing and rushing yards in a single season.

Reynolds, who missed half of the loss at Western Kentucky with a head injury, has rushed for 1,124 yards on 250 carries, averaging 102.2 yards per game with 26 touchdowns. In the air, Reynolds has completed 63 of 114 passes (55.3 percent) with two interceptions for 1,028 yards averaging 93.5 yards per game and eight touchdowns. Nationally, Reynolds is first in points per game (14.2), first in rushing touchdowns with 26, first in rushing TDs among quarterbacks and second among quarterbacks in rushing yards per game with 102.2.

Navy has scored on 46 of its 51 possessions (.902) in the red zone this year, scoring 39 touchdowns, kicking seven field goals, missing two field goals, two interceptions and taking a knee to end the game in Navy’s 51-7 victory over Delaware.

Mids defensive captain Cody Peterson and D.J. Sargenti, both senior outside linebackers along with junior linebacker Chris Johnson, lead the Navy defense with 124, 97 and 71 total tackles respectively. Peterson has 84 solo tackles (7.6 per game) and Sargenti has 63 (5.7). Johnson also leads the team with three pass interceptions, three pass break-ups and one fumble recovery. Peterson is fourth nationally in total tackles with 11.3 per game, second nationally in solo tackles, averaging 7.6 per game.

Since 2003, Navy has won 21 games against schools from a BCS conference. Those 21 wins have come against 10 different teams and are the most in the country by a non-BCS school.

A major stepping stone this year on the road to Fort Worth, the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major service academies – Army, Navy and Air Force – and is named in honor of the President of the United States. Navy has dominated of late, winning the trophy a Service Academy record seven consecutive years from 2003-2009 and winning a Service Academy record 15 straight games against Air Force and Army in the process. Air Force lost to both Army (41-21) and Navy (28-21 OT) last year to surrender the trophy after holding it for two years (2010, 2011). Navy has won the trophy a total of 13 times since the award was started in 1972 plus three retentions for a total of 16 times.

Air Force defeated Army at Air Force this year, 42-28 and the regular season will end next Saturday (Dec. 14) in Philadelphia when Army plays Navy. Navy has been the most dominant service academy in the last decade plus, winning 20 of 22 (.909) meetings with Air Force and Army, including this year’s 28-10 win over Air Force.

First MW Football Conference Championship game on Saturday

While the search for the Mountain West representative (six NCAA bowl affiliations) in the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is reaching its conclusion this weekend, this Saturday will see the first MW Football Conference Championship game played.

The MW Mountain Division final regular season standings this year with team records are: Utah State (8-4, 7-1), Boise State (8-4, 6-2 in MW), Colorado State (7-6, 5-3), Wyoming (5-7, 3-5), New Mexico (3-9, 1-7), and Air Force (2-10, 0-8).  Fresno State (10-1, 7-1) won the MW West Division teams followed by: San Diego State (7-5, 6-2), UNLV (7-5, 5-3), San Jose State (6-6, 5-3), Nevada (4-8, 3-5), and Hawai’i (1-11, 0-8).

Mountain West will present its inaugural MW Football Conference Championship game as MW Mountain Division winner Utah State visits MW West Division winner Fresno State for a 7 p.m. PT kickoff. The game will be played at 41,031-seat Bulldog Stadium and this will be the 28th all-time meeting between the two schools. Fresno State leads the series 16-10-1 and in Fresno the Bulldogs hold a 12-2-1 edge over the Aggies. In their last meeting, Fresno State defeated Utah State in 2011, 27-21 in Fresno.

The MW championship game will be televised on the CBS Television Network and carried as well on radio on the MW Network as well as satellite radio networks Sirius (92) and XM (192).

Following Week 14 and the final regular season action, the MW announced its three players of the week (offense, defense and special teams).  On offense, San Jose State senior quarterback David Fales, Salinas, Calif. was selected following his monumental performance during his team’s amazing 62-52 win over previously-unbeaten Fresno State last Friday. Fales completed 37 of 45 passes for a Mountain West record of 547 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Fales, who completed his first 13 passes of the game, also added a 1-yard touchdown run, to account for seven of the eight Spartan TDs.

On defense, Utah State redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Vigil, Plain City, Utah, was picked following his career-high 3.5 sacks and career-best 4.0 tackles for a loss as part of his seven (four solo) total tackles in Utah States 35-7 victory over Wyoming. .His four tackles for a loss resulted in a loss of 39 yards.

Selected for his special teams play was San Jose State sophomore placekicker Austin Lopez, Euless, Texas, who scored a season-high 14 points in San Jose State’s 62-52 victory over Fresno State.  He was 8-for-8 on extra point attempts and also successfully converted field goal attempts from 45 and 37 yards.

The Mountain West is the only conference in the country with two of the top four, and seven of the top 30, in passing average per game. Fresno State senior Derek Carr leads all quarterbacks in the FBS with 405.6 yards per game, which is 39 yards per game more than Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, who ranks second nationally. San Jose State senior David Fales enters the postseason netting 349.1 yards per game to rank fourth, followed by Wyoming junior Brett Smith (281.3 ypg, 15th), Hawai‘i senior Sean Schroeder (269.1, 21st), Nevada junior Cody Fajardo (266.8 ypg, 23rd), Colorado State junior Garrett Grayson (256.1, 29th) and San Diego State junior Quinn Kaehler (255.9, 30th).

The Mountain West is the only conference in the FBS with four of the top 12 quarterbacks in total offense. Fresno State senior Derek Carr ranks first nationally with 418.0 total yards per game, more than 38 yards per game more than SMU’s Garrett Gilbert, who ranks second in the country. San Jose State senior David Fales ranks fifth in the country with 349.7 total yards per game, followed by Wyoming junior Brett Smith (329.0) and Nevada junior Cody Fajardo (328.9), who rank 11th and 12th, respectively.

Nine MW receivers are averaging at least 6.3 receptions per game. Fresno State sophomore Davante Adams leads all FBS receivers with 10.3 receptions per game. Nevada senior Brandon Wimberly currently is tied for eighth with 8.1 catches, while Fresno State junior Josh Harper is 14th with 7.2 per game. Boise State sophomore Shane Williams-Rhodes and Fresno State senior Isaiah Burse are knotted at 16th with 7.0 catches per contest, San Jose State senior Chandler Jones is tied for 23rd nationally with 6.6, and Boise State junior Matt Miller and UNLV junior Devante Davis are tied for 26th with 6.4. Wyoming junior Dominic Rufran rounds out the group with 6.3 receptions per game to tie for 31st nationally. No other league in the FBS has more than four receivers in this category.

Four MW teams rank in the top 25 nationally for first down offense. Fresno State leads the league and is ranked second nationally with 330 first downs this season, while Boise State ranks 18th with 299. San Jose State ranks 20th at 295, followed by Colorado State, which is tied with Missouri for 21st (292) and UNLV, which is tied with Illinois for 25th (288).

The Mountain West is one of two conferences nationally (Pac-12) with five teams that have 288 or more first downs this season.

Fresno State, San Jose State, Wyoming, Boise State and Colorado State are five of 29 teams in the country that average at least 460 total yards per game, making the Mountain West one of two conferences (SEC) with at least five of the top 29 teams in total offense. The Bulldogs currently rank second nationally with 580.6 yards per game, while San Jose State nets 493.3 total yards per contest to rank 14th. Wyoming is 23rd nationally with 472.8 yards per game, followed by Boise State at 24th (470.8) and Colorado State at 29th (461.2).

With victories in Week 14, Colorado State (7-6) and San Jose State (6-6) joined Fresno State (10-1), Boise State (8-4), San Diego State (7-5), UNLV (7-5) and Utah State (8-4) as the Mountain West’s bowl-eligible teams for the 2013 season. Fresno State has made 12 bowl appearances in the last 14 years and 24 overall. Boise State, which boasts an all-time bowl record of 9-4, has made 11 straight trips and 13 overall. For the first time in program history, San Diego State has become bowl eligible in four consecutive years. Utah State has earned bowl eligibility for the third straight season. UNLV, which holds a 3-0 all-time bowl record, has become eligible for the postseason for the first time since the 2000 season. Colorado State is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. The Rams are 5-7 all-time in the postseason. San Jose State, which has a 6-3 postseason record, is eligible to go to a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1986-87.

The seven bowl-eligible teams is a new Mountain West record, breaking the old mark of five accomplished each of the last six seasons. Since the league’s inception in 1999, the Mountain West has earned 56 bowl bids and holds a 32-24 (.571) all-time record. Over the last nine seasons, the MW has captured the Bowl Challenge Cup four times and owns the second-best win percentage in bowl games among the 10 FBS conferences with a 25-16 mark (.610). The Mountain West is the only conference to win the trophy four times since the award’s inception in 2002-03.

Utah State senior Joey DeMartino joined Boise State sophomore Jay Ajayi, Colorado State sophomore Kapri Bibbs, New Mexico junior Kasey Carrier, San Diego State junior Adam Muema and UNLV senior Tim Cornett as the MW running backs that have rushed for at least 1,000 yards on the season. This marks only the second time in the league’s 15-year history that six or more players have rushed for 1,000 yards in the same season. A league-record eight players rushed for 1,000 yards in 2012. Ajayi became the first MW running back this season to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark, accomplishing the feat in the first nine games of the 2013 campaign. He currently has 1,328 rushing. Bibbs has 1,572 yards on the year, the most by a Ram since Cecil Sapp had a program-record 1,601 yards in 2002. Carrier, who suffered an injury in Week 12, has 1,122 yards on the year, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season and becoming the first Lobo with back-to-back rushing seasons since Rodney Ferguson in 2007-10. Muema became the fourth Aztec with multiple 1,000-yard rushing campaigns, joining Marshall Faulk (1991-93), Paul Hewitt (1987-88) and Ronnie Hillman (2010-11). Muema has 1,015 rushing yards in his junior campaign. Cornett brought his season total to 1,251 rushing yards, becoming the second Rebel in program history to record more than one 1,000-yard rushing season in a career. Mike Thomas previously accomplished the feat in 1973 and 1974. DeMartino became the 17th Aggie ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. The senior, who has 1,024 rushing yards this season, has also rushed for 1,181 yards in his career at Utah State.

Great Texas prep football players appear all over college football and the Mountain West is no exception with a total of 104 active players combined on the 12 MW teams in 2013, with the Mountain Division having 84 on its six teams’ rosters and the West having 20 on the rosters of its six teams.  Leading the way with Texas players are the Air Force Academy with 19 followed by Boise State and Colorado State with 16 each. Other schools with double doses of Texans are New Mexico with 15, Wyoming with 11 and UNLV with 10 Texas players on their rosters.

For additional Mountain West info, visit www.theMW.com.

This will mark the third time in its 11-year history that the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be held on December 30, as the 2010 and 2011 contests were both held on that date. The most recent Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl was played Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 featuring a match-up between the Rice Owls and U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons, in which the Owls claimed the bowl victory 33-14. Last year’s showcase drew an attendance of 40,754.

Tickets for the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl are now on sale through ArmedForcesBowl.com. Armed forces veterans and active-duty personnel receive free admittance via the bowl’s corporate armed forces ticket underwriting program, while supplies are available.

Owned and operated by ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN Regional Television (ERT), the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl has featured the “armed forces” theme since 2006. Patriotic overtones recognizing all five branches of the service are prevalent throughout the game. Past Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls have included fan-fest areas showcasing armed forces hardware; flyovers; demonstrations by several of the military's top skydiving teams; custom homes awarded to wounded warriors; on-field induction ceremonies; armed forces bands and honor guards; the annual Great American Patriot Award presented by Armed Forces Insurance; and the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

For additional information about the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, please visit ArmedForcesBowl.com, Facebook.com/ArmedForcesBowl or Twitter.com/ArmedForcesBowl.

Admiral William H. McRaven has been named the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl’s Great American Patriot Award recipient. The award will be presented by Armed Forces Insurance, the sponsor of the award, and official insurance partner of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at halftime of this year’s game. Admiral McRaven will join an elite list of previous Great American Patriot Award recipients, including Medal of Honor Recipient Salvatore Giunta, Admiral Thad Allen, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, and 2012 award recipient General Norton A. Schwartz among others.

Admiral McRaven currently serves as Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. From there he oversees the readiness of special operations forces worldwide.

Brandon McCoy, a senior defensive end at North Texas, is the second recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He received the award on November 11 during a Veteran's Day media conference at the school's football stadium where the executive directors of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl and FWAA were on hand to present the award. Coordinated by the staff at the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.