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Western Kentucky (0-3) at Navy (1-2)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 26th, 3:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) -- Annapolis, Maryland. Television: CBS College Sports. Home Record: WKU 0-2, Navy 1-0. Away Record: WKU 0-1, Navy 0-2. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, Navy 0-0. Conference Record: WKU 0-0, Navy 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: For the first time ever the Navy Midshipmen and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will collide on the gridiron when the two schools take the field this Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

After posting a terrible 2-10 ledger a year ago, the Hilltoppers' troubles have continued this season, as the team has dropped its first three games. The most recent setback was a 28-7 decision at the hands of Central Arkansas and it was the 11th consecutive loss for Western Kentucky dating back to last season.

As for the Midshipmen, they are coming off a 27-14 setback to Pittsburgh. It was the second loss on the year for Navy, which also opened the year with a tough, 31-27 setback to Ohio State. After this contest, the Midshipmen will remain home next week when they host the Air Force Falcons.

The Hilltoppers' inability to perform on a consistent level on offense continued in the loss to Central Arkansas, as they posted just 287 total yards. Quarterback Brandon Smith led the ground attack with only 59 yards and one touchdown, and that was much better than his outing throwing the football, as he completed just 8-of-22 passes for 66 yards. Smith was also intercepted once and sacked three times. Smith has been leading the rushing attack for WKU throughout the year and comes into this matchup with a team-high 162 yards on 3.6 yards per attempt. However, his performance as a passer has been bad and could jeopardize his ability to remain the starter. Coming into this weekend Smith has completed just 47.5 percent of his throws for 194 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. As a whole, the offensive unit is producing a meager 218.0 total yards per matchup and that has translated into an equally poor 9.0 ppg.

Much like the offensive unit, the defense for Western Kentucky has been suspect, surrendering a whopping 508.3 total yards per matchup, which has translated into 42.0 ppg for the opposition. The team has been abused by the run to the tune of 275.3 ypg. The inability to stop the run continued in the recent loss to Central Arkansas, as WKU allowed 193 yards and two scores on 6.2 yards per attempt. Overall the defense was torched for 407 yards, and that led to 28 Central Arkansas points. The Hilltoppers were also unable to make big plays, finishing the game with only two turnovers and no sacks. After three games, the Hilltoppers have collected seven turnovers, but pressuring the opposing signal caller has been an issue, as the defense has just one sack to its credit.

Navy's offense is predicated on the run, as the team uses its ground game to push opponents for four quarters. The Midshipmen head into this matchup averaging 201.7 rushing yards per matchup, and 317.7 total yards overall. Alexander Teich is pacing the squad with 173 yards on the season and Marcus Curry is a close second with 172 yards, to go along with two touchdowns. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs is third on the team with 151 rushing yards, but he leads the team in touchdowns with five. Dobbs has surprisingly enjoyed mild success with his arm, as he has thrown for 348 yards and two touchdowns, despite completing just 47.6 percent of his throws. In the recent loss to Pittsburgh, the running game was surprisingly bottled up, as the Panthers held the Midshipmen to just 129 yards on 2.8 yards per attempt. Overall the Midshipmen were held to just 218 total yards. Teich led the way in the setback with 80 yards on 12 carries, while Curry and Dobbs combined for 55 yards and two touchdowns.

Navy's defensive unit comes into this weekend limiting opponents to just 299.7 total yards per game, but despite the strong effort teams are still posting 24.0 ppg. Navy has been strong in defending the run, as opponents are churning out just 96.7 ypg on a mere 3.2 yards per attempt. In the loss to Pittsburgh, the Midshipmen held the Panthers to just 126 rushing yards on 3.4 ypc, but struggled against the pass, allowing 243 yards through the air. Navy was unable to make any big plays in the contest and finished with only one turnover and one sack, while also allowing Pittsburgh to convert on all five of its red zone attempts. Ross Pospisil led the way in the loss for Navy with 14 tackles, while Wyatt Middleton added nine stops.

This matchup is tailor made for the Midshipmen. Western Kentucky has been dreadful against the run, which is Navy's calling card. Expect the Midshipmen to return to the win column with an easy victory over the Hilltoppers.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 38, Western Kentucky 13

09/23 10:31:59 ET