SAN FRANCISCO - Arizona State Sun Devils and Navy Midshipmen will meet for the first time on Saturday, December 29 at AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco in the third Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
The game is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. EST kickoff and will be shown to a national audience by ESPN2.
The Sun Devils finished the regular season 7-5, with a 5-4 record in Pac-12 Conference play. Included in the five triumphs was a 41-34 victory over in-state rival Arizona. Arizona State scored 24 4th quarter points to rally from a 10-point deficit. RB Marion Grice carried 18 times for a career-high 156 yards and three touchdowns.
Navy is 8-4 and the winner of the coveted Commander-in-Chief's trophy, awarded annually to the academy with the best record in the round-robin competition between Air Force, Army and the Midshipmen.
"We are excited to have the opportunity to select Arizona State to meet Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29," Cavalli said. "It promises to be an intriguing matchup between two high-scoring, high-profile teams. Navy has won seven of its last eight games, and ASU also finished strong with a come-from-behind win over Arizona in the Territorial Cup.
"We look forward to welcoming the Midshipmen and Sun Devil players and coaches, as well as thousands of their fans, and providing them with a memorable experience in San Francisco."
Steve Patterson, ASU Vice President for University Athletics, noted, "We are very proud to be able to represent Arizona State University and the Pac-12 Conference in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. This invitation is the culmination of a fine first season for Head Coach Todd Graham, his coaching staff and our student-athletes. The Bay Area is one of ASU's most important markets. Our fans have a wonderful Bowl experience to look forward to and we encourage them to come out and enjoy all that San Francisco and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl have to offer."
Arizona State competes in its 26th bowl game, with a 12-12-1 overall mark. Under first-year coach Todd Graham, the Sun Devils were one of only three Pac-12 schools to win three conference road games, defeating California, Colorado and Arizona along the way. The Sun Devils won four of six home games at Sun Devil Stadium.
Led by junior QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State was third among Pac-12 offenses in scoring an average 36.4 points per game. The Sun Devils were also formidable defensively, ranking second [to Pac-12 champion Stanford] in allowing only 350.8 yards per contest.
Arizona State ranked first overall against the pass, permitting just 178.8 yards/game through the air in the passing-conscious Pac-12 Conference.
The Sun Devils additionally picked off 20 passes in 12 games, returning three for touchdowns. Part of that success is attributable to a front seven that ranked 2nd among Pac-12 teams with 48 sacks.
"The annual goal for every college football team is to have a successful season and play in a Bowl game," Graham said. "We are very proud to have reached that goal by participating in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against a worthy opponent such as the U.S. Naval Academy. It will be an honor to travel to and participate in this wonderful Bowl experience in one of America's great cities."
Kelly [224-340-2,772-25 TD-9 INT] ranked 4th overall among Pac-12 QBs. He completed 65.9% of his attempts while throwing for an average 231 yards/game. Five receivers caught 33 or more passes on the year, led by WR Chris Coyle [53-659-5 TD].
Arizona State junior DT Will Sutton was named the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year despite missing a portion of the season due to injury. The fifth-ever Sun Devil so honored had a team-leading 10.5 sacks while totaling 58 stops, 38 solo.
Senior DE Brandon Magee was the Pac-12's 2nd-leading tackler. His 77 solo stops led the conference en route to a total 104 that also featured 6.5 sacks. He had 17 tackles against Arizona, 14 solo.
Navy is 7-9-1 all-time in bowl games and 1-1-1 all-time against current Pac-12 schools in bowl games. This will be Navy’s ninth bowl game in the last 10 years. The Middies have lost four of their last five bowl games with the only win coming against Mizzou in a 35-13 pounding at the 2009 Texas Bowl.
Under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, Navy is just 1-3 in bowl games.
The Midshipmen are ranked 6th nationally in rushing offense, but just 79th in total offense.
Keenan Reynolds is the first freshman to start at quarterback for Navy since Jim Kubiak started five games in 1991. Meanwhile, he is just the third freshman in school history to start at quarterback (the other was Alton Grizzard in 1987). Reynolds is 6-1 as a starting quarterback with wins over Central Michigan, Indiana, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Texas State and Army and a loss to Troy. He also came off the bench with Navy down eight points to Air Force in the fourth quarter to lead the Mids to an overtime victory. Kubiak won just one game as a freshman starter (beat a 5-5 Army team) and Grizzard won two games (lost to Army).
Sophomore punter Pablo Beltran is averaging 43.9 yards per punt (40 punts) this season.
Outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel has enjoyed a spectacular senior campaign, recording 74 tackles (tied for third on the team), 15 tackles for a loss (first on the team), seven sacks (first on the team), a pass break-up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com project Arizona State as an 11.64-point winner for the fourth-widest predicted outcome of the 35 postseason games.