Navy (4-2) at S-M-U (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 17th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. Home Record: Navy 3-0, SMU 2-0. Away Record: Navy 1-2, SMU 1-2. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, SMU 2-0. Series Record: SMU leads, 7-6.
GAME NOTES: Competing in the inaugural battle for the Gansz Trophy, created in honor of late coaching legend Frank Gansz, the SMU Mustangs host the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday night in a non-conference clash at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
The Midshipmen enter the meeting on the heels of a 63-14 blowout of Rice, and they currently own a three-game win streak as a result. Navy currently stands at 4-2 on the year and owns a 21-26-1 record against Conference USA teams all- time.
The Mustangs are off to a 3-2 start, including a 2-0 mark in C-USA play, a wonderful start for a team that posted a 1-11 ledger a year ago. The Mustangs are fresh off a 28-21 upset victory over East Carolina, snapping a two-game slide. A win against the Midshipmen would give the Mustangs their best start since 1986.
SMU holds a slim 7-6 advantage in the all-time series between these two teams.
Navy is vying for a record fifth-straight NCAA rushing title in 2009, and the team currently rank sixth in the nation in rushing at 270 ypg. The Midshipmen are led by junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who currently ranks first in the country in touchdowns scored with 14 and in ppg (14.0). He has amassed 490 yards on the ground through the first six games, while Marcus Curry has been responsible for 321 yards for a 53.5 ypg average. Alexander Teich and Vince Murray have gotten into the act as well, churning out 227 and 207 yards, respectively. Dobbs needed to pass just three times during last week's rout of Rice, as he ran for four touchdowns before giving way to backup Kriss Proctor, who added three scoring runs of his own. Dobbs completed two of the three passes he threw for 66 yards in the win, while Curry gained 85 yards on just 10 carries and Proctor finished with 82 yards on 14 totes. All said, the Midshipmen amassed a whopping 471 yards to go with nine touchdowns on the ground in the contest. The Midshipmen's 537 yards of total offense marked the 28th best tally in school history.
The Navy defense was equally dominant against Rice, as the Mids held the Owls to 272 total yards, including just 21 yards on the ground. Ram Vela led the stand with five tackles, two of which were for a loss and a sack. The Midshipmen also forced a pair of turnovers in the winning effort, and held Rice to a mere 2-of-10 on third down conversions. On the season, Navy owns the 15th-best third-down defense in the country, yielding just a 23-of-74 success rate. Opponents average just 20.2 ppg against the Mids, and the defense has forced 15 turnovers in six games.
SMU is led this season by quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who ranks 16th in the country in total offense with 282.8 ypg. The squad manages a rather lackluster 297.0 total ypg, which includes just 65.8 ypg on the ground. Star wideout Emmaunuel Sanders is just two catches away from a new SMU career receptions record. Sanders already ranks as the program's all-time leader in career touchdown catches (29) and receiving yards (2,980). Sanders has 47 grabs for 528 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the season. Mitchell completed 17- of-29 passes for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Mustangs to last Saturday's win over East Carolina. SMU tallied 294 yards of total offense on the day. Aldrick Robinson caught four passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the win, while Sanders added four receptions for 62 yards.
The SMU defense currently leads the nation with 13 interceptions, and the unit has registered a total of 19 takeaways on the year. Rock Dennis is currently tied for third in the nation in interceptions per game (0.8), while Chase Kennemer is tied for fifth in tackles per tilt (11). The turnovers have gone a long way to help bolster a Mustang defense that allows 391.8 ypg and 29.2 ppg. The Mustangs have had success in stopping the opposition on third down, as opponents have managed just a 31-of-78 success rate to this point in the season. The Ponies gave up 357 total yards to ECU a week ago, but limited the damage when it mattered most as the Pirates found the end zone just twice on offense. The Mustangs also returned two turnovers for touchdowns in the win, one of which being a 53-yard return by Dennis late in the third quarter.
SMU may lead the nation in interceptions, but that stat won't matter here as Navy rarely throws the ball. The Mustangs have surrendered plenty of yards this season, and with the way the Midshipmen run, those yards are going to translate into touchdowns.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 47, SMU 28
10/14 10:56:32 ET