Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
In accordance with a 2009 deal with bowl organizers, the Midshipmen accepted their invitation to play in the game on November 3 after winning six of their first nine games of the season. After the Sun Devils achieved bowl eligibility by defeating in-state rival Arizona Wildcats for a 7–5 regular-season record, the team accepted its bowl invitation on December 2.
The pregame buildup focused on the contest between Navy's triple option offense and the Sun Devils' defense. After a change in quarterbacks, the Midshipmen's rushing offense had become one of the best in the nation; however, the team's passing offense ranked near the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Arizona State's balanced offense hinged on its quarterback efficiency, with the potential to set a number of school records for the season. Defensively the team ranked as one of the best in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, but its rushing defense ranked 74th in yards allowed per game. Most analysts predicted a victory for the Sun Devils. Navy sold over 10,000 tickets to the game, and Arizona State sold over 5,000.
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