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Preview, How to Watch: Navy aims to knock off No. 24 SMU

SMU is one of 17 unbeatens left in FBS, but Navy has beaten the Mustangs five straight times in Annapolis.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 USF at SMU Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last weekend was a weekend of “finally” for the 2021 Navy football team.

FINALLY, Navy picked up a win as they pulled off a 34-30 victory over UCF. Not only that, but Navy’s offense FINALLY showed signs of life as they rushed for 348 yards on the afternoon, outperforming the Knights offense by 80 yards.

Navy will try and continue their great play as they host the No. 24 ranked team in the country, SMU. The Mustangs enter the weekend as one of 17 unbeaten teams in FBS, and have topped the likes of Louisiana Tech, TCU and USF recently.

SMU is led by Oklahoma transfer and Maxwell Award watch-list member Tanner Mordecai. Through his first five games of the season, Mordecai has completed 70.17% of his passes, throwing for 1,569 yards, 24 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He ranks sixth in the nation in completions (127), seventh in passing yards, first in touchdowns and eighth in passer rating efficiency (180.1). In four of his five games, Mordecai has passed for over 300 yards, and in the season opener against FCS’ Abilene Christian, he threw for seven touchdowns. In short: Navy’s defense will have its hands full.

Against SMU, Navy will look for its first Top 25 victory of the season, and its sixth straight against the Mustangs in Annapolis.

Navy Offense vs. SMU Defense

If Navy can run the ball like they did last weekend, anything is possible.

The Mustangs don’t have the stingiest rushing defense in the country, giving up at least one 20+ yard rush per-game, and an average of 131.2 yards on 33.2 rushes per-game.

Navy has shown tons of promise on offense since their coordinator change though, scoring 54 points in the last two weeks after only scoring 10 in the first two.

Last week against UCF, Navy had four players rush for over 50 yards including Carlinos Acie, and Isaac Ruoss, who each ran for more than 80 yards. The weekend before against Houston, Xavier Arline led the way with 74 yards. There is never a sure breakout star when you have six-to-eight players rushing the ball a game.

As for SMU, they force turnovers. They already have a total of seven forced fumbles on the season, and have also racked up six interceptions.

Their leading tackler Shaine Hailey has two of those forced fumbles, and their other leading tackler Delano Robinson has 27 stops.

Navy Defense vs SMU Offense

SMU loves to air the ball out, and it is shown with its 14th ranked passing offense in the country.

Mordecai is a big reason why the SMU offense is so effective. He leads in the country with 24 passing touchdowns, is 7th in passing yards, and 8th in passing efficiency while showing no signs of slowing down.

Not only that, but the Mustangs have the 5th ranked total offense in the country because they can complement it with the running game when needed.

Ulysses Bentley averages 100.75 rushing yards per game for SMU on only 13.25 carries per game. Bentley didn’t play last week because of an injury but is expected to return against the Midshipmen this week.

Navy’s defense on the other hand isn’t the most consistent, as they rank 56th in the country in total defense. However, the Mids showed last week it could get crucial stops when they matter, coming up with two big turnovers against UCF in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Diego Fagot has lived up to his preseason hype, leading the team by a large amount with 39 tackles.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday, Oct. 9 — 3:30 p.m. EST
  • Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium — Annapolis, Maryland
  • Watch: John Sadak and Randy Cross will have the call on CBS Sports Network.
  • Spread: Most books have SMU favored by 13.5 points over Navy, with the over-under set at 56.