Many pundits who follow college football for a living argue that Memphis will represent the AAC West in this year’s conference championship game, and although we have only seen the Tigers compete against FCS Mercer, their 66-14 victory over the Bears showed they are a very real contender to do just that. While the 66 points and nine touchdown performance was impressive, the Tigers could have scored close to 100 points last week as the Mike Norvell led squad was in front 56-0 at halftime before granting mercy on the Bears.
Navy, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back after a slow start in Honolulu last week in a 59-41 loss to Hawaii that saw the Midshipmen climbing out of a hole from the start. While the offense struggled to get going and quickly found themselves down 28-0 early in the second quarter, the Midshipmen managed to put together five 75-yard touchdown drives in the final three quarters to keep the game relatively close.
It was the defense that had no answer for the Hawaii passing game as the Midshipmen gave up six passing touchdowns on over 400 yards through the air. With Memphis’ dominating aerial attack coming to Annapolis, the Navy defense will have a chance at redemption this Saturday.
How To Watch:
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Sep. 8.
Watch: CBS Sports, AFN
Location: Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD.
Rankings: Memphis enters week two of the S&P+ rankings at 15, while Navy is ranked 105th.
Betting Lines: General consensus has Memphis favored by a 6.5 point spread with an over/under of 69.
Navy at Home
Navy is 9-1 in home openers under Niumatalolo with its lone loss coming at the hands of Rutgers in 2014. The last time these two teams met in Annapolis, Navy defeated Memphis 42-28 thanks in large part due to a three rushing touchdown performance from Will Worth. Additionally, Navy has an 18-2 record at home dating back to the start of the 2015 season.
Keys to Success
1) At the end of the day this game will come down to which defense can produce more stops (or perhaps merely force field goals). Both offenses seem to be clicking after week one and the two teams have combined for an average of 64 total points per game in their short American Athletic Conference history. Navy will need to force field goals and capitalize with touchdowns after any forced punt to start conference play 1-0.
2) Since Navy joined the AAC, the Midshipmen have had success moving the football and controlling the clock against Memphis. In the last three meetings, the Midshipmen have managed to keep the Tigers to below their scoring average in each season. In order for Navy to defeat Memphis they must look to extend drives and keep the Tiger offense off the field as much as possible.
3) This last key is pretty much the key to every game, but Navy must win the turnover battle. Navy has never lost the turnover battle and beaten Memphis while in the AAC and that shouldn’t be any different this year. As Navy sideline reporter and WBAL host Joe Miller pointed out earlier this week, however, winning the turnover battle alone is not enough to secure a win. Navy won the turnover battle in Hawaii and still fell short of pulling out the victory, something that doesn’t happen too often under Niumatalolo’s leadership.
In @navybirddog article on the @TheMidReport about the positive takeaways from Hawaii, he asked: "I don't know how many times Navy has scored 40+ points, won the turnover battle, and lost" I just checked, until Saturday it had never happened before in @NavyFB History.— Joe Miller (@Jomilmil) September 6, 2018
Navy Football: The Brotherhood 2018-Working Out with Coach Fitz
Don’t look at me for a score. I think it will be high scoring and a lot of fun to watch. I also predict CBS Sports Network will show a sample schedule of “A Day in the Life of a Navy Football Player” and we will see a close-up shot of a bunch of plebes doing push-ups. There could be a bearshark sighting and perhaps a cardboard cutout of the President, or even better, John McCain. Actually, you know what, someone better be working on that in Bancroft Hall right now. Make it happen.
Final prediction - There will easily be a 90 minute wait at Iron Rooster by 10:00 AM, so be prepared to wait it out or get there early, especially if you want to see the march-on. Enjoy that bacon.
Football in Annapolis is back!