With a 9-3 record and a national reputation, several bowls will court Navy. But Raycom Sports, owner and operator of the Meineke Car Care Bowl, reached out to the Midshipmen first. Hey, maybe Navy goes 12-0, blows up the BCS and makes a run at a New Year's bowl game. For now, let's say Navy plays Boston College in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 30.
There's no shame in that. More importantly, we can have fun predicting the game six months before it happens. So here it is: Navy vs. Boston College in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Grab a cold one and enjoy:
Let's start with one of the more interesting storylines. BC head coach Tom O'Brien played defensive end for Navy from 1968-70 and later coached (1975-81) at the Academy. Cue the O'Brien quotes about how difficult it is to go up against his alma mater. The other feature will focus around Navy's continued success. Time to tee the ball up.
Score: BC 7, Navy 0.
Wanna go deep, huh? After two first downs on Navy's first drive, quarterback Brian Hampton connects with slot back Reggie Campbell for a 44-yard pass that puts them on BC's 11-yard line. But the Midshipmen eventually have to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Joey Bullen.
Score: BC 7, Navy 3.
O'Brien often uses junior linebacker Brian Toal as a fullback with great success. There is Toal in the backfield early in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-goal play from Navy's 1-yard line. Touchdown, Toal!
Score: BC 14, Navy 3.
The Midshipmen put together an impressive 14-play, 66-yard drive that eats nearly seven minutes off the clock. With time running out in the half, Bullen hits a 33-yard field goal.
Score: BC 14, Navy 6.
The game's first big turnover. Navy linebacker Rob Caldwell hits BC running back L.V. Whitworth at the Eagles' 11-yard line and forces a fumble. Defensive end Tye Adams pounces on it on the 9-yard line. Three plays later, fullback Adam Ballard scores a 2-yard touchdown.
Navy coach Paul Johnson goes for the two-point conversion and Hampton scores on a keeper.
Score: BC 14, Navy 14.
BC races back up the field and takes the lead on a 43-yard field goal by Ryan Ohliger.
Score: BC: 17, Navy 14.
Hampton hits Campbell again, this time for a 69-yard touchdown up top. The 25,000 Navy fans go crazy. But there's one problem: Holding. Bring it back. No touchdown.
Whitworth carves up the Midshipmen for 50 yard on the last possession of the third quarter. Ohliger hits from 36 yards out.
Score: BC 20, Navy 14
Oh, no! Toal, who already has 12 tackles and a sack, strips Trey Hines on Navy's 18-yard line and picks up the fumble.
BC can just about put the game away with a touchdown. But penalties leave Ohliger trying a 50-yard field goal. Wide right!
Navy goes three-and-out.
BC goes three-and-out.
That sets up this scenario: Navy ball at its own 28-yard line. Exactly seven minutes are left on the clock.
Ballard runs for five yards.
Hampton follows with six.
Five more for Hampton.
Hines gains 11 yards on a pretty option play.
Campbell gains 12 yards on a neat screen pass.
Navy is called for holding.
They still manage another first down.
The drive keeps going.
The clock keeps running.
Both teams are out of time outs.
So it comes down to this: Second down. Navy has the ball on BC's 3-yard line with 23 seconds left. Ballard takes a hand off from Hampton, but loses his footing and a yard on the play.
Hampton spikes the ball with five seconds left. Final play of the season: Hampton takes the snap and cuts to the outside. The play is a pitch to Campbell, but Hampton trips. As he falls, he has no choice but toss the ball in desperation to Campbell.
Campbell catches it with one hand, avoids a tackle, then another. He dives for the end zone as he is hit by linebacker Jolonn Dunbar. Time expires. Did he get in?
The referees hesitate. But then a signal is made: Touchdown! Campbell is a bowl game hero again!
Bullen nails the extra point.
Final score: Navy 21, BC 20.
Navy wins its third straight bowl game. The Midshipmen expect to end the year with a Top 25 ranking. O'Brien lauds the play of his alma mater. "They didn't surprise me," O'Brien says. "I knew those kids were tough." Campbell is the MVP. He goes to Disney World. Hope this was fun.