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Navy (2-2) at Wake Forest (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 9th, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Groves Stadium (33,941) -- Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Navy 1-0, Wake Forest 2-1. Away Record: Navy 1-1, Wake Forest 0-2. Neutral Record: Navy 0-1, Wake Forest 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Wake Forest 1-2. Series Record: Wake Forest leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: This Saturday is a must-win situation for Wake Forest, as the Demon Deacons will look to put a halt to their current slide when they host the Navy Midshipmen at Groves Stadium.
Navy saw its 15-game winning streak against fellow service academy schools come to an end this past weekend, as Air Force defeated the Midshipmen, 14-6. It was the second loss on the year for Navy, which opened the new season with a 17-14 setback to Maryland.
The Deacons head into this game in desperate need of a victory. Coach Jim Grobe's gang has lost its last three matchups, since starting the year with two straight victories. However, the most recent setback was the toughest to swallow for Wake Forest, which fell at home to Georgia Tech this past weekend, 24-20.
The Demon Deacons currently hold a 7-4 edge over Navy in the all-time series, but the Midshipmen won the most recent matchup, defeating Wake Forest, 13-10, this past season.
Navy has punished the opposition with its ground attack over the past few seasons, and the Midshipmen are once again running all over teams in 2010. However, there is one major difference, coach Ken Niumatalolo's squad is not finding the end zone as much. Navy heads into this weekend averaging a healthy 256.8 ypg on the ground, but that has translated into just 17.5 ppg.
Navy continued to have success on the ground against Air Force this past weekend, but even with over 200 rushing yards, the Midshipmen failed to win, finishing the game with just six points. Andre Byrd led the way with 50 yards on just three carries, while Vince Murray added 45 yards and Ricky Dobbs was held to just 43 yards on 2.4 yards per tote.
Murray is currently leading the team with 269 yards on the season, while Dobbs has added 217 yards, to go along with a team-best three scores. However, the quarterback is netting just 2.4 ypc and has also thrown three interceptions against one touchdown.
What has helped Navy get through its lackluster performances on offense, has been the defense, which is currently limiting the opposition to just 15.2 ppg. Navy has endured some struggles against the run, allowing 195.0 ypg on the season, but at the same time this unit is holding teams to just 95.2 ypg through the air, which is good enough for the top rank in the nation.
Navy's problems with the run were evident in the loss to Air Force, as the Falcons gashed the Midshipmen for 292 yards and two touchdowns. It was not all bad for this defense, which forced two turnovers in the loss, and also held Air Force to just 13 first downs.
Max Blue racked up 15 tackles in the setback, while Tyler Simmons tallied 11 stops. Blue now has 28 stops on the year, but Simmons has been the best of the bunch and is leading the team with 36 tackles.
The Demon Deacons have found success in their ground game this season, and will likely approach this matchup with a game plan similar to Navy's. Wake Forest, which comes into this weekend averaging 30.2 ppg, has dominated opponents with the run, churning out 223.0 ypg, and out of the 18 touchdowns scored by this unit, 14 have come via the run.
This past weekend against Georgia Tech, the Deacons rumbled for 161 yards and two touchdowns, but a sloppy fourth quarter by the defense left Wake Forest with a loss. Josh Adams did most of the work out of the backfield, as the tailback gashed Georgia Tech for 101 yards and one score. Quarterback Skylar Jones added 31 yards, while finished just 9-of-20 under center for 105 yards.
It was without question the best showing on the season for Adams, who comes into this contest with only 202 yards and two touchdowns. Adams is one of six different players on Wake Forest with at least two rushing touchdowns, so clearly there is no number one option on the depth chart.
As mentioned earlier the defense had a complete meltdown over the final 15 minutes of action against Georgia Tech. Wake Forest was leading for most of the matchup, until this unit surrendered 18 fourth quarter points, which led to a four-point setback.
Both of Georgia Tech's touchdowns in the final frame came via the pass, but coach Jim Grobe's defense was pulverized by the Yellow Jackets on the ground, allowing 209 yards on 4.4 yards per carry.
Defending the run has been a problem for this unit all year, as the team is surrendering 182.4 ypg. However, the secondary has also had its issues, as teams are torching Wake Forest for 259.2 ypg via the pass.
The lack of overall success would explain why this team has already allowed 24 touchdowns in just five games.
It has been hard for the Midshipmen to produce points this season, but this could be the perfect matchup for Navy to snap out of its scoring slump. Wake Forest has been a mess defensively, and even though the team is home, look for the Midshipmen to run through the Deacons just like Georgia Tech did this past weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 27, Wake Forest 21
10/06 11:00:45 ET