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Biggest Mismatches Of The 2016 Bowl Season

The formula/system/ancient Mayan secret on how teams are matched up for bowl games is pretty convoluted and that does not necessarily make the most even matchups. Yes, we get some amazing games, but there are always a few bowl games that are complete beatdowns thanks to massive mismatches.

Spotting these mismatches can go a long way to making sure you have a profitable bowl season. Don’t worry. You don’t need to plow through 40-plus bowl games and 80-plus teams to figure out where these mismatches are. That’s what I get paid for.

Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson vs Navy’s Pass Defense

Navy’s passing defense finished the regular season an abysmal 104th in the nation. The Midshipmen have allowed 25 passing touchdowns compared with just seven interceptions and generate little pressure up front. The most telling number for Navy’s mediocre passing defense is 8.4. That is the number of yards per attempt Navy has been allowing this season, the third-worst of any team playing in a bowl game.

Though they have been unheralded, the receiver tandem of Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson has been one of the best in the nation. The diminutive Taylor recorded 1570 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 12.7 yards per reception. Henderson has slightly less receiving yards than Taylor but has tallied 17 touchdowns and a ridiculous 19.5 yards per reception.

Navy’s passing defense has been terrible all season. Now they need to contain potentially the most explosive pass-catching duo with the C-USA MVP passing to them. 

Luke Falk vs Minnesota’s Secondary

Luke Falk has been one of the most consistent and efficient passers in the nation. The Washington State signal-caller finished the regular season in the top five in passing yards, completion percentage and passing touchdowns. The biggest issue with Falk is his tendency to lock onto receivers and not work through his progressions sometimes, which won’t be an issue against Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers are 66th in the nation in passing defense and that was at full strength. However, Minnesota suspended 10 players in connection with a sexual assault investigation, with two of those being starters in the secondary and two others being key reserves in the defensive backfield.

Can an inexperienced, taped-together secondary stop one of the most efficient passers and spread offenses in college football? Not very likely.   

Pitt’s Defensive Line vs Northwestern’s Offensive Line

The rushing game for Northwestern has basically been non-existent this season, so the Wildcats decided to just pass the ball. This has left sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson getting hit…a lot. Thorson has been sacked 34 times this season, which is the sixth-most in the country. Without a running game, Thorson has been getting the ball in plenty of third-and-long situations and the sophomore has been sacked in over 20 percent of dropbacks from third-and-six or longer.

Pitt’s defensive line has been wreaking havoc all season long, as the Panthers finished the regular season tied for the 10th-most sacks in the nation. Four different Pitt defenders have recorded at least three sacks with pass rusher extraordinaire Ejuan Price leading the way. 

The keys to beating Northwestern are to hit Thorson and drain the clock on offense, something that should be easily done for Pitt.