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S-M-U (1-7) at Navy (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 25th, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) -- Annapolis, Maryland. Television: CBSCSN. Home Record: SMU 1-3, Navy 2-1. Away Record: SMU 0-4, Navy 2-2. Neutral Record: SMU 0-0, Navy 0-0. Conference Record: SMU 0-5, Navy 0-0. Series Record: SMU leads, 7-5.
GAME NOTES: The Navy Midshipmen play host to the SMU Mustangs this Saturday in a non-conference matchup at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The Mustangs enter the game riding a six-game losing streak and have yet to win on the road this season. The Mustangs have played well in their last two bouts against Conference USA foes Tulsa and Houston, but have nothing to show for their efforts. Two weeks ago, the Ponies had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter and to possibly upset an undefeated and now nationally- ranked Tulsa team but could not make the big play when needed. In last week's clash, the Mustangs were beating Houston with less than 10 minutes to go in the game only to see the Cougars rally for 21 points to post the victory. Navy will make history this weekend as it will become only the second school in FBS history to play 1,200 games. Navy lost for the first time at home last week to the nationally-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers (42-21), which snapped a three-game winning streak for the Mids. Over the last six years Navy is 23-8 in games played at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium which is currently the 25th-best winning percentage in the country over that span. Since 2003, the Mids have won 47 games which ranks 19th in the country (tied with Tennessee and California) for most wins in the last six years. This will be the 13th time the Midshipmen and Mustangs have met on the gridiron, with the latter winning seven of the previous 12 games. The teams last met in 2002 in Dallas in a game Navy won, 38-7.
The Mustang offense has been one-dimensional all season as the passing attack, led by QB Bo Levi Mitchell, is currently ranked 11th in the nation with an average of 302.1 ypg. The Mustangs, however are netting just over 50 ypg on the ground which ranks 118th nationally. SMU, which is averaging less than three ypc (2.7) with only three rushing touchdowns on the year, has no real threat at running back. Mitchell, who has had his ups-and-downs this year, is ranked 20th in the nation in total offense with 274.9 ypg. He has thrown for over 2,200 yards and 21 touchdowns in the Mustangs' first eight games, however, he has thrown 18 interceptions. The Ponies do have a two-headed monster at wide receiver with Emmanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson, both of whom are averaging over 100 ypg through the air. Sanders has 59 receptions on the year and eight touchdowns while Robinson, who ranks third in the nation in receiving yards (113.6 ypg), has 46 receptions and 10 scores.
The SMU defensive unit has been bad all year and the statistics certainly back that up. Nationally, SMU is ranked 118th in total defense, allowing over 501 ypg and has given up an average of 41.1 ppg, which ranks 116th. The Mustangs have permitted 214.8 ypg on the ground and are allowing the opposition to average greater than five ypc (5.2). Individually, the Mustangs have seven players with at least 30 tackles and are led by Youri Yenga who has 41 stops, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two blocked kicks. He also leads the team with 3.5 sacks accounting for over a quarter of the Mustangs' 12 total QB takedowns.
Navy is one of the best rushing teams in the country as it is ranked fourth in the nation by averaging 296.43 ypg. The Mids rely heavily on their triple- option attack which is led by running backs Shun White and Eric Kettani along with QB Jarod Bryant. White, who is averaging 109.7 ypg on the ground, started the season on fire with three straight 100-yard rushing games, including an incredible 348-yard performance against Towson. He had two very poor performances, in which he gained just 25 yards on 14 carries, sandwiched in between the two decent games. In the Mids' loss to Pitt last week, White ran 10 times for 70 yards and scored a touchdown. He is averaging almost nine yards a touch (8.8 ypc). Kettani had posted two consecutive 100-yard games, in wins over Rutgers and Wake Forest, and is averaging 5.8 ypc. Byrant, although not a threat with his arm, can beat a team with his legs which is evident in his 392 rushing yards and six touchdowns, which leads all Navy ball-carriers. Navy's passing game is almost non-existent as it ranks second-to-last in the nation with a mere 70.9 ypg.
The Navy defense has struggled all season and is allowing more than 400 ypg which currently ranks the team 90th in the nation. The Mids' effort against the pass is permitting better than 65 percent of passes to be completed, resulting in 259 ypg through the air. The run defense has been inconsistent at best. In games one, three and five the Navy defense held its opponent to under 100 yards on the ground. However, in games two, four, six and seven Navy allowed over 165 yards rushing, including back-to-back games where Air Force and Pitt ran for 227 and 244 yards, respectively. On a positive note, the Mids do force turnovers as they have 17 takeaways on the season, including 10 picks. They are ranked 12th in the nation in turnover margin. The Mids have eight players with at least one sack and four with 40 or more tackles. Ross Pospisil and Rashawn King each have two interceptions.
This week's contest between SMU and Navy should be nothing more than the Mustang passing game versus the Midshipmen rushing attack, as neither team does the other area well. In a game such as this, look for the team that controls the clock to win the game. Additionally, SMU's Mitchell is prone to mistakes and that has been Navy's saving grace defensively.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 34, SMU 24
10/22 10:43:26 ET