Navy vs. Rutgers
San Francisco Treat?: Representatives from five postseason bowl games will attend today's game between the Midshipmen and Scarlet Knights. Navy is bowl-eligible with a 7-2 record, and Gary Cavalli, executive director of the Emerald Bowl, said he could extend the Midshipmen an invitation to come to San Francisco for the Dec. 30 game if they win today. Scouts from the Motor City, Champs Sports, Houston and Liberty bowls also will be in attendance. "They've done a nice job of getting themselves bowl-eligible, hopefully we can make ourselves more marketable on Saturday," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said.
Playing for J.P.: Several of Navy's players undoubtedly will be thinking of J.P. Blecksmith, a former Midshipmen wide receiver who was killed in Iraq on Nov. 11. Blecksmith, from San Marino, Calif., was killed while fighting to secure Fallujah, Pentagon officials said. Blecksmith didn't catch a pass during his senior season in 2002, but he completed two passes against Northwestern, including a 79-yarder to slotback Eric Roberts. "He was a great kid," Johnson said. "He's like most of these kids here. He was a tough kid. I think he was doing what he wanted to be doing. I know he was proud to be a Marine. It's tough. This is really the first one for me that I actually coached and it's a tough situation, but you pray for the family and pray for everybody and move on. It's all that you can do."
Bowl Dreaming: With victories over Navy today and Connecticut on Thanksgiving day, Rutgers would finish 6-5 and be eligible to play in the school's second bowl game. Rutgers has played in one bowl game, losing 34-18 to Arizona State in the 1978 Garden State Bowl.
Winning the Close Ones: Navy has won all four of its games decided by four points or less this season. Before this year, the Midshipmen had lost nine of their last 10 contests decided by four points or less, dating from the 1998 Rutgers game, which Navy lost, 36-33.
-- Mark Schlabach