Navy (1-3) at Air Force (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 11:30 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Falcon Stadium (52,480) -- USAFA, Colorado. Television: CBS. Home Record: Navy 1-1, Air Force 2-0. Away Record: Navy 0-1, Air Force 0-2. Neutral Record: Navy 0-1, Air Force 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Air Force 1-0. Series Record: Air Force leads, 27-17.
GAME NOTES: Service academy rivals are set to square off on Saturday morning when the Air Force Falcons play host to the Navy Midshipmen.
Navy's season kicked off with the Emerald Isle Classic in Dublin, Ireland, losing handily to Notre Dame, 50-10. Its struggles continued even with its return to the states, with only a win against FCS program VMI (41-3) saving it from a winless start. The Midshipmen's last game, a 12-0 loss to San Jose State, marked the first time they've been shut out in six years. Their slow start is especially disappointing considering they won three of their last four games of the 2011 campaign.
While Air Force lost a couple of difficult road games to Michigan (31-25) and UNLV (38-35), it has won both of its games at Falcon Stadium this season, defeating Idaho State 49-21 in the opener and Colorado State 42-21 in its first Mountain West Conference bout last week. The Falcons have enjoyed the home field advantage of late, winning four of their last five in USAFA, Colorado dating back to last season.
Air Force holds a 27-17 advantage in the all-time series with Navy. The Falcons have won two straight meetings following a seven-game losing streak to the Mids from 2003-09.
Navy has one of the worst scoring offenses in the country, ranking 117th out of 120 FBS teams with just 14.5 ppg. It reached new lows in the shutout loss to San Jose State, gaining only 144 total yards.
The Midshipmen run the triple-option, but it has sputtered for the most part here in the early going, as they average just 4.6 yards per rush attempt. Quarterback Trey Miller leads the team with 69 carries and three rushing touchdowns, but he has only amassed 181 yards. Noah Copeland (41 carries, 190 yards) and Gee Gee Greene (25 carries, 195 yards, TD) share the load in the backfield.
Miller has attempted just 55 passes over four games and hasn't been able to do much with them, completing 56.4 percent for 357 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Freshman Keenan Reynolds (7-of-10, 77 yards) has been seeing more snaps in recent weeks.
There aren't many balls to go around in the passing game. Shawn Lynch (144 yards), Brandon Turner (100 yards), and Casey Bolena (91 yards) all have eight catches, with Lynch hauling in the lone receiving score.
Unlike the offense, the defense has shown great improvement of late. After allowing 84 combined points in their first two games, the Midshipmen have given up just 15 points total the past two weeks.
Parrish Gaines recorded 12 of his 28 total tackles for the season in the loss to San Jose State. Matt Warrick has two of the team's four interceptions, and Keegan Wetzel has four tackles for loss and three sacks to anchor the defensive line.
Air Force also prefers to use the run more than the pass, but it has been much more effect than Navy so far this season, putting up 37.8 ppg while leading the nation in rushing offense with 396.3 yards per game.
Cody Getz is coming off a career-high 222 yards in the win over Colorado State, and he now has 683 yards (8.2 ypc) and seven touchdowns rushing the football this season. He has gained at least 100 yards in four straight games, becoming the first Falcon to do so since Beau Morgan back in 1996. Ty MacArthur (173 yards, two TDs), Jon Lee (132 yards, two TDs), and Mike DeWitt (115 yards, two TDs) also see ample time in the backfield.
Connor Dietz has played every snap under center and has yet to throw an interception in 44 pass attempts. The senior has compiled 416 passing yards, 257 rushing yards, and five total touchdowns.
MacArthur leads the team in both catches (eight) and receiving yards (192). No other player has more than four receptions.
The Falcons defense needs to tighten up if they want to be contenders in the MWC this year. They've given up 27.8 ppg and have allowed opponents to score touchdowns on 73 percent (11-of-15) of their trips to the red zone.
Austin Niklas (35 tackles, two TFL) and Steffon Batts (30 tackles, two INTs) are the standouts on the defensive side of the football for Air Force. The unit has not done a good job putting pressure on the quarterback, recording just three sacks in four games.
For a struggling Midshipmen offense, the porous Air Force defense is exactly what they need to get back on track in the scoring department. Still, no one has had an answer for the Falcons' rushing attack so far this season, and in front of a rowdy crowd in a rivalry game, they should have no problem picking up the victory and getting a leg up in the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 35, Navy 21
10/03 10:37:10 ET