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Preview, How to Watch: Navy faces No. 2 Cincinnati in Annapolis

The undefeated Bearcats are coming to Annapolis. Can Navy pull off what seems like impossible?

NCAA Football: Navy at Memphis Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Navy hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.

And it could get ugly.

The Midshipmen are 1-5 this season, while the Bearcats are 6-0, ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll, and have their sights set on being the first team from the American Athletic Conference to make the College Football Playoff.

But Navy has a history of upending teams with championship aspirations.

In 1984, the Mids faced a 9-0 South Carolina squad that was also ranked second in the AP Poll. Napoleon McCallum and Bill Byrne didn’t lay down for the Gamecocks though, and led the Mids to an unlikely 38-21 upset win.

Just a few years ago, in 2016, Navy hosted No. 6 Houston in Annapolis. With Tom Herman on the sidelines and Ed Oliver at defensive tackle, the Cougars expected to bear Navy with ease. Will Worth and the Midshipmen had other ideas though Navy, a 16-point underdog, shocked Houston, winning 46-40.

So, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for the Mids to beat the Bearcats on Saturday. Shocking? Unlikely? Strange? Improbable? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Especially considering the quality of football Navy has played this year.

But don’t count the Mids out yet. Weird things happen in football. This is why they play the games.

How To Watch

When: Saturday, Oct. 23 — Noon EST

Where: Annapolis, Maryland — Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

TV: Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore and Stormy Buonantony will have the call for ESPN2.

Odds: Most books have Navy as a 28-point underdog. The over-under is around 48.5.

Last time they met

Navy is 3-1 all-time against Cincinnati, but Luke Fickell’s side won 42-0 they last time they played in 2018. A young Desmond Ridder threw for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns that day for the Bearcats. Hudson Sullivan had 10 tackles for the Mids.

They said it

Luke Fickell: “We get a chance to really kind of move on to something completely different. For those of you that have never prepared for a triple-option team, it is quite a unique week.”

Ken Niumatalolo: “Ridder does everything well. He’s got a big arm and is very athletic. He fits perfectly with the system they run. With his skill set and the weapons around him, it’s the perfect offense.”

Stat blast

  • Navy is playing the third-toughest schedule in the country this year based on opponent winning percentage from 2020. The Mids’ 12 opponents this fall combined for a 72-42 record in 2020.
  • Mids’ senior corner Michael McMorris has forced three fumbles this year which is tied for the fifth-most in the country.
  • Cincy’s Desmond Ridder is the most-winningest quarterback currently in Division I FBS with a 37-5 career record.