Armed Forces Bowl preview: Louisiana Tech vs. Navy

Louisiana Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz will have his guys ready for a showdown in the Armed Forces Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Louisiana Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz will have his guys ready for a showdown in the Armed Forces Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Navy Midshipmen converge at Amon G. Carter Stadium Friday afternoon for the 14th annual Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. This one should be good.

The Navy Midshipmen (9-4) make their second trip to Fort Worth for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Friday. Their hope is that the second time will be as good as, or even better than the first. For the first-time Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, they’re not going to let that happen easily.

How Navy made it to the Armed Forces Bowl

Last season was a good one for the Naval Academy, culminating with a Military Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers. Some thought it was a fluke, though and so the boys of the sea made it a point to prove otherwise in 2016.

It didn’t take long as they came out of the gate 3-0. They then lost to the Air Force Falcons, which could have derailed their season. But considering the Air Force eventually beat the Army Black Knights for the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, it wasn’t exactly a stunning loss. In fact, all three service academies are playing bowl games in the same season for only the second time in history. And for the fifth year in a row, Navy is doing it again.

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The sad part is, they’ll have to win this game without quarterback Will Worth, who had the second-most rushing touchdowns in all of FBS football, and the most among signal-callers.

To add insult to injury, or perhaps injury to injury, senior running back Toneo Gulley is also out. This Navy team that took down Houston and Notre Dame will enter without two of their biggest playmakers.

Enter sophomore QB Zach Abey. He’s winless as a starter and he hasn’t shown the same running ability as Worth. This could make for a long day for Navy.

How Louisiana Tech made it to the Armed Forces Bowl

For the Bulldogs, they had their hands full from the start. But losing three of their first four games wasn’t enough to hold them back. Louisiana Tech reeled of seven straight victories to earn a trip to the Conference USA Championship Game. While Western Kentucky handed them a disappointing 58-44 loss in that game, they came out battle-tested and ready to finish on a high note.

Senior quarterback Ryan Higgins ended the regular season third in passing yards with 4,208 and he finished tied for fifth in TD passes with 37. Of course, he’s not all Louisiana Tech has on offense.

The receiving tandem of senior Trent Taylor and junior Carlos Henderson might just be the best one-two punch in the nation. The duo combined for 2,976 yards and 27 touchdowns. The Navy secondary will have their work cut out for them with these two. Not to mention, Louisiana Tech also boasts a 1,000-yard rusher in the backfield.

Junior running back Jarred Craft provides dual-threat ability as a runner and receiver. He’ll keep the Midshipmen defense honest  with his ground game and provide a safety valve through the air for Higgins.

How the Armed Forces Bowl will go

There will be a lot of offense in this game, but most of it will happen in favor of Louisiana Tech. They simply have too many playmakers on offense, and Navy is a very banged-up team with 15 men on the injured list.

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The Bulldogs will strike early through the air with Henderson and Taylor bringing in touchdown receptions. Then the ground game will hold the lead as Craft reaches the end zone another couple of times. When all is said and done, the Bulldogs will hoist the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Trophy after a 42-21 win.