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Navy vs. Cincinnati preview: Mids hope to snap slide against Bearcats

Navy is visiting Nippert Stadium for the first time. Can the Midshipmen snap a five-game losing streak against a strong Cincinnati Bearcats team?

NCAA Football: Navy vs Notre Dame Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With a 2-6 record and riding a five-game losing streak, the Navy Midshipmen are almost playing for pure pride at this point in their 2018 campaign. An appearance in a bowl game seems unlikely, at best. The Mids must win all five of their remaining games to go to their seventh consecutive bowl game.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bearcats are one of the best teams in the American Athletic Conference this season with a 7-1 record. They have a win over Power 5 foe UCLA on their resume, but still have tough in-conference tests ahead against USF and No. 9 UCF.

Can the Mids’ snap their slide and round back into a decent form? Or will the Bearcats continue their stellar season and beat Navy with their air attack?

The Basics

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (EST)

Watch: ESPNU – Roy Philpott and Tom Ramsey will have the call.

Where: Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio

Rankings: In Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings, Cincinnati is 40th and Navy is 102nd (for an explainer on S&P+, click here). Cincinnati received 45 votes in the AP Poll this past week.

Spread: Most books have the Bearcats favored between 13 and 18 points. Connelly picks Cincinnati to win and cover 17.5 points.

Last Time Around

Navy improved to 3-0 on Sept. 23, 2017 when it beat Cincinnati 42-32 in Annapolis. Navy rushed for 569 yards as a team, but Zach Abey led the way with 128 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and he also threw a touchdown pass. Navy is 3-0 all-time against Cincinnati, beating them in meetings in 1940, 1956 and 2017. This will be Navy’s first ever trip to Cincinnati.

X-Factor

Navy’s defense has to keep forcing turnovers and the offense has to capitalize on them. The Mids’ defense has 10 fumble recoveries this season, which is tied for the second most in FBS. Navy has forced 17 turnovers in all this season. The Mids made Notre Dame cough up possession twice last week, but only turned one of those takeaways into points. In Navy’s lone win over an FBS side this season, a 22-21 home win vs. Memphis, it forced the Tigers into four turnovers and scored off two of them. Cincinnati has turned over the ball at least three times in its last three games.

They Said It

Navy secondary coach Dan O’Brien, via Capital Gazette: “That’s the ultimate goal, to get four turnovers and score every week. We pride ourselves on defense with being fanatical, running to the football and being physical.”

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, via Capital Gazette: “You can see their mentality – a tough, hard-nosed, physical team. I’ve just been impressed with their demeanor. They’re a good overall football team. They’re winning for a reason. It’s not by coincidence, it’s by design and how they play. I’ve just been impressed watching them on tape. They are playing really hard right now.”

Cincinnati linebacker Malik Clements, via Cincinnati Enquirer: “Last year it was a lot of guys’ first time going against an offense where things just kind of hit us fast. It kind of progressed. By the second half, it was already too late… I feel we’ve got a good concept this year. I feel real comfortable with the scheme the coaches are preparing for us.”

Prediction

Cincinnati wins, but Navy shows fight. Bearcats 31, Midshipmen 26.

Threads

Bearcats are going with an all-black look.