Posted: Tuesday December 20, 2005 3:36PM; Updated: Thursday December 22, 2005 12:09PM
Bowl Breakdown: Poinsettia
Colorado State (6-5) vs. Navy (6-4)
Dec. 22, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Qualcomm Stadium (71,500)
SI.com's Cory McCartney analyzes the matchup.
Breaking down Colorado State
Lamar Owens powered Navy's triple option-offense, which led the nation in rushing with 305.2 yards a game.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
If the Rams' offense is on, this could get interesting. Colorado State does have firepower with running back Kyle Bell (1,166 yards, nine touchdowns), quarterback Justin Holland (2,804 yards, 20 TDs) and wide receiver David Anderson (1,095 yds, eight TDs). But the Rams have struggled down the stretch, averaging 311 yards and 15 points in losing two of their past three games.
Outside of Bell, who emerged as one of the country's rising young stars this season, the Rams' only other consistent bright spot has been punter Jim Kaylor (fourth in the nation, averaging 45.7 yards an attempt). Injuries have taken their toll on defense, as the Rams are 104th nationally against the rush, giving up 200.6 yards a game.
Breaking down Navy
Run. Run. Run. And run some more. There's no question what makes the Midshipmen go. Navy has the nation's best rushing attack, averaging 305.2 yards a game, and the man at the trigger of the triple-option is quarterback Lamar Owens, whose 830 yards topped a group of six players with at least 290 yards on the ground.
Linebackers Rob Caldwell (126 tackles) and Jacob Biles (104) anchor a defense that's efficient (39th nationally against the pass, 68th against the rush) but won't win many style points. Ball control is the key to Navy's success. The Midshipmen have held the ball for 30-plus minutes seven times this season, including 35:36 against Tulane.
The Rams' woeful rushing defense isn't going to stop Navy. But the real question is whether Colorado State can rediscover the offensive rhythm that produced 423.8 yards in its first eight games. That will be the difference between a blowout and shootout.