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Preview, How to Watch: Still searching for first win, Navy hosts UCF

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The Midshipmen will have to play at their very best to top the UCF Knights on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Navy at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Week Five of the 2021 college football season and the Navy Midshipmen are still searching for their first victory.

Ken Niumatalolo’s men will get a chance to right the ship Saturday when they host the UCF Knights in Annapolis.

UCF isn’t quite as good as they’ve been in recent years, but the Knights still have a solid football squad, one that’s won more often than Navy. Coached by Gus Malzahn — formerly of Auburn — UCF is 2-1 with wins over Boise State and Bethune Cookman. Their lone loss came against Louisville.

With three games under their belt, the Knights are sixth in the country in scoring, averaging 44.7 points per-game in a small sample size. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel had the keys to the UCF offense, totaling nine touchdowns and 818 yards through the air, completing 70-of-102 passes. However, Gabriel broke his left collarbone, so freshman Mikey Keene will get the start under-center.

Navy’s secondary will no doubt be tested through the air, but UCF’s running game shouldn’t be brushed aside either. With 51 carries Isaiah Bowser is averaging 5.3 yards per-carry and has covered 268 yards of field while also scoring five touchdowns.

Defensively, UCF hasn’t proven to be stout. The Knights allowed both Boise and Louisville to score more than 30 points. Even an FCS side managed two scores against UCF.

Navy looked improved against Houston, losing 28-20, but the Mids will need to take a big step forward to best UCF and put its first tally in 2021’s win column.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday, Oct. 2 — 3:30 p.m. EST
  • Where: Annapolis, Maryland — Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
  • Watch: Chick Hernandez, Randy Cross and Sheehan Stanwick Burch will have the call for CBS Sports Network.
  • Odds: Most books have UCF as 15.5-point road favorites. The over-under is around 52.5 points.

They Said It

  • UCF WR Ryan O’Keefe: “Mikey is going to do just fine. He’s got the confidence. He’s got the poise back there. He’s a very good quarterback.”
  • Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo: “I know this: He’s a competitor. It kills him. I can just see the pain in his face. … When you lose, you want to see what bothers people. It definitely bothers Xavier.

Fun Facts

  • UCF linebacker Bryson Armstrong transferred to the Knights from Kennesaw State, where he was coached — and recruited — by Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry. In 2017, Armstrong tallied 11 sacks under Newberry’s watch, setting a Big South record.
  • UCF is the only team Navy has not beaten since joining the AAC in 2015.
  • Navy will retire Chet Moeller’s No. 48 on Saturday. Moeller will be the first defensive player to have his number retired at Navy. A defensive back, Moeller was a unanimous All-American at Navy and has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.