clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Navy at Houston has New Year’s bowl stakes, and it’s going to be fun as heck

Navy's the unanimous No. 1 in the latest Underdogs poll, and faces the previous No. 1 this week.

Joey Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Forget deals on TVs, toasters or whatever you're likely hunting for this week, the best deal you'll find this holday season is the pack of Group of Five football games available for your viewing pleasure.

Nearly every non-power conference race is still up for grabs. Of the four with championship games (seriously, get it together Sun Belt), only the Mountain West Conference's is all set.

Northern Illinois can lock up its fifth straight MAC West title with a win over Ohio Tuesday; lose and Toledo can claim the title Friday. In Conference USA we have a pair of semifinals, as the winners of WKU vs. Marshall and Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Mississippi win their respective divisions and a trip to the C-USA title game. In the American Athletic Conference, Temple locks up the East with a win; but lose and a surging USF likely takes the division.

Then, there's the cherry on top: Navy at Houston.

The Underdogs Poll is a weekly venture in which SB Nation's blogs on non-power conference schools vote to rank the top 15 non-power conference teams at the moment.

1 Navy (25) 250 2
2 Toledo 191 4
3 Temple 169 7
4 Houston 160 1
5 WKU 142 6
6 Memphis 93 3
7 BYU 69 8
8 NIU 65 9
9 BGSU 64 5
10 Air Force 33 20
11 SDSU 28 16
12 USF 26 17
T-13 Appalachian State 19 12
T-13 Louisiana Tech 19 13
T-13 Marshall 19 11
Dropped out: Boise State, Arkansas State, WMU | Others receiving votes: Arkansas State (14), Georgia Southern (9), Boise State (2), Utah State (2), WMU (1)

This isn't just a battle for the AAC West title (and homefield advantage in the conference championship), it's also a showdown between two of the best football teams in the country. Regardless of how the College Football Playoff committee ranks them, there's no denying these teams' abilities. Both enter the game with just one loss.

Sure, Houston lost to UConn last week in surprising (and disappointing) fashion, but this game still has the makings to be one of the better matchups of the season. Houston's smashmouth spread offense vs. Navy's dangerous triple option presents an interesting clash of styles. It also features two of college football's best running quarterbacks: Navy's Keenan Reynolds and Houston's Greg Ward Jr.

Both are still in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl game and neither makes it without the win, adding another wrinkle to an already competitive game.

What more could you ask for on Black Friday?

Also, you should be watching if for no other reason than to witness one of the most exciting football players in modern college history play one of his final games. Reynolds, the NCAA career (non-passing) touchdown record holder received his service assignment for his duty in the United States Navy last week: after this season he'll turn in his pads and helmet to be a Naval Information Warfare officer.


Keenan Reynolds: Again, the senior Navy quarterback shined in a impressive road win over Tulsa with a pair of touchdowns to further increase his NCAA career record. Seriously, if he hasn't earned himself a trip to New York at this point, nothing will. If this man is not considered for the Heisman, the award doesn't matter. It's that simple.

Kareem Hunt: The Toledo junior hasn't been his usual self this season (he's only about halfway to his 1,631 rushing yards from last year), but last week at Bowling Green he did what he does best: run all over the Falcons. Hunt racked up two scores and 153 yards in the win, his biggest game of the season. If he's fully healthy, he's arguably one of the best running backs in the country.

Bronson Kaufusi: Defensive players don't get enough love around here, but we do respect it when a player makes us admit that. The BYU defensive end made it impossible to ignore his performance this past weekend: a blocked field goal, a forced fumble, three sacks, four tackles for loss and five total tackles in the Cougars' 52-10 routing of Fresno State. This guy is going to be starting on Sundays next year.

UConn's defense: A cop out? Sure, but UConn's defense did do something no one has done this year: slow down Houston's offense. In the end, it resulted in a shocking win for the Huskies. Three sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Not a bad day for the unit.

Larry Rose III: Guess who's back? The sophomore running back racked up 191 yards on the ground Saturday in the process of helping NMSU capture its third straight win. Suddenly, the Aggies (who are incredibly deep and young in the backfield) are looking like an exciting team. Hopefully it's not too late for the Sun Belt to realize.


Get all kinds of NCAA Football stories, rumors, game coverage, and pictures of Puddles in your inbox every day.


Marshall at Western Kentucky, Friday, Nov. 27 at noon E.T. on Fox Sports 1

Navy at Houston, Friday, Nov. 27 at noon E.T. on ABC

Nevada at SDSU, Saturday, Nov. 28 at 10:15 E.T. on ESPN2

BONUS (if you can find it on TV): Southern Mississippi at Louisiana Tech, Saturday, Nov. 28 at noon E.T. check your local listings