Navy enters the game 2-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming from their first game of season against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. In Week 2, Navy won an important game against conference opponent, Memphis, 22-21. Last week, Navy won convincingly, 51-21, against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
The SMU Mustangs host Navy in their first conference game. SMU has still yet to win their first game, however that is not indicative of their ability as a team. The Mustangs have faced a 3-0 North Texas team (who just beat Arkansas...in Arkansas), No. 16 TCU (who almost beat Ohio State), and No. 19 Michigan. SMU has not been incredibly competitive in any of these games, but playing high quality opponents, such as these, only make a team better. Navy is likely comparable to North Texas, but by no means is this game set to be a blowout.
Both SMU and Navy are in the AAC West, so this game does have significant conference implications. A win for SMU would be nothing more than a morale booster. However a loss for Navy would be largely detrimental to Navy’s hopes of making it to the AAC conference championship game. Regardless, SMU isn’t going to just roll over in front of a home crowd.
Dallas, Texas is set to get a handful of thunderstorms and precipitation throughout Friday evening and early Saturday morning. At the time of the game, the current forecast calls for a 45% chance of precipitation, peaking to 60% during the game. As always, subject to change.
How does this affect each team? Well we saw Navy still able to move the ball on offense against Memphis in which it was raining nearly the entire game. Additionally, Memphis’ heavy passing offense struggled in the rain. SMU is averaging 190 passing yards per game and only 81 rushing yards per game. However, this rushing number is especially low since SMU had only 4 rushing yards in their first game against North Texas.
The Mustangs have a relatively balanced offense, but will need to lean heavier on their rushing attack should the rain become a factor. Navy will probably not need to change their offense scheme at all.
In 2009, the SMU and Navy athletic departments agreed to create the Gansz Trophy in honor of Frank Gansz. Gansz, Naval Academy Class of 1960, played linebacker and center as a Midshipman. He later went on to coach various football teams, and was an assistant at SMU shortly before he passed.
Navy leads the all-time series record between the two teams, 12-7. The Midshipmen own an 8 game win streak against SMU, and are 6-0 since the inception of the Gansz Trophy. Last year’s meeting ended in an exhilarating 43-40 score, with Navy’s backup kicker, J. R. Osborn, hitting a 18 yard field goal as time expired.
How to Watch
Time: 12:00 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Sep. 22.
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Dallas, Texas
Betting Lines: Navy is favored by 6.5 points with the over/under being 63.
Keys to Success
The keys to success for the Navy Midshipmen on offense is simple: do not turnover the ball. Especially with the weather being a possible factor, taking care of the football will be essential for a Navy win. Malcolm Perry will be under center for the Midshipmen and will have the ball in his hands for the majority of the offensive possessions. The offense, as it is now, is good enough to carry their weight and put up a solid number of points against nearly any team in the country.
It is the defense that will need to continue to come up big as they have in the past two weeks. Sure, creating turnovers on defense would be great. But in reality, some of the more fundamental aspects of defense will be plenty to help the Midshipmen to a victory. These fundamentals include, making tackles, getting pressure on the quarterback, and not getting beat deep on long pass plays.
Both teams refer to themselves as a Brotherhood.
Prediction: Navy 35 - SMU 24
It appears as though Coach Ken Niumatalolo has been telling his team captains to receive the ball on kickoff if they win the coin toss. This is abnormal for Coach Niumatalolo, for historically, he has often instructed his captains to defer the opening kickoff.
One could assume Coach Niumatalolo has been focusing on getting off to a fast start. With the momentum from last week’s big win against Lehigh, Navy will likely come out strong early in this week’s game and cruise to a 35-24 victory, bringing them to 3-1 on the season.