ANNAPOLIS, Md. – An important American Athletic Conference match-up at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland on Veteran’s Day will pit the SMU Mustangs against the Navy Midshipmen. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR THE NAVY MIDSHIPMEN
- Navy will try to end it’s first three-game losing streak since October 2014 (they lost to Rutgers, Western Kentucky and Air Force between 9/20/14 and 10/4/14). After starting the season 5-0 and 3-0 in the AAC, Navy found itself ranked inside the top 25. Losses to Memphis, UCF and Temple have left the Midshipmen scrambling for answers.
- Navy just needs one more victory to become bowl eligible. Navy stands at 5-3 right now and 3-3 in the AAC. If the Midshipmen do not beat the Mustangs on Saturday, the last three games on their schedule are not easy one. They go on the road to play Notre Dame and then Houston before closing out the regular season in Philadelphia, December 9th against Army.
- The last time Navy was not bowl eligible was back in 2011. They finished that season 5-7 as an independent football school.
WHAT NAVY HAS GOING FOR THEM AGAINST SMU
- In the 18 times that SMU and Navy have played against each other, the Midshipmen have a 11-7 advantage and have won the last seven games in the series. The last Mustangs victory was a 24-11 win on November 21, 1998 that was played in Annapolis.
- Last year’s victory of 75-31 was the largest margin of victory in the series for Navy.
WHAT NAVY HAS GOING AGAINST THEM ON SATURDAY
- Navy QB Zach Abey has what they are calling an “undisclosed” injury and currently listed as questionable for the game on Saturday.
- After leading the FBS for years in fewest penalties, fewest penalties per game and fewest penalty yards, 2017 has seen Navy fall to 10th, 11th and 28th, respectively in those categories, which has contributed to their current three-game losing streak.
WHAT THE NUMBERS HAVE TO SAY FOR NAVY
- Navy is currently ranked 67th in the FBS for rushing defense, giving up 165.9 yards per game. They are ranked as the 4th best FBS rushing offense, gaining 346.1 yards per game.
- On the passing side, the Midshipmen are ranked 88th in pass defense, giving up 242.3 yards per game and on the passing offense side, they rank 125th, only getting 111.0 passing yards per game.
WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR THE SMU MUSTANGS
- The Mustangs are going bowling for the first time since 2012, but as Head Coach Chad Morris puts it, the more wins you have, the warmer the bowl game.
- SMU is coming off a close 31-24 loss to one of the best teams in the nation, UCF. They’ll be looking to come out strong to prove that they’re as good as they looked this past Saturday.
- SMU remains in contention for the AAC West title. They’ll have to win out, but it’s still in reach and the Mustangs are still hungry for it.
WHAT SMU HAS GOING FOR THEM AGAINST NAVY
- The Ponies have some of the best wide receivers in the country, including All-American Courtland Sutton, who appears to be a future first-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, with CBS Sports projecting him as going #2 overall just earlier this week. They’ll be facing a Navy secondary that got beat downfield numerous times against Temple.
- SMU causes a lot of turnovers, and is currently fifth in the nation with a +12 turnover margin on the season. They’ve forced nine fumbles, and will look to use their ability to strip the football against Navy’s triple option.
WHAT SMU HAS GOING AGAINST THEM ON SATURDAY
- SMU has struggled to create a game plan for Navy’s triple option in the past. Last year, every Navy player that traveled to SMU saw game time, with the exception of the punter.
- SMU allowed 203 yards on the ground against UCF last week. The defense showed some nice glimpses of hope with numerous tackles for losses, but overall the rush defense struggled.
WHAT THE NUMBERS HAVE TO SAY FOR SMU
- SMU is ranked 10th in the nation offensively, averaging 505.0 yards per game. They’ll look to use their high powered offense to match up drive-for-drive with Navy in what will likely be a high-scoring shootout.
- SMU is ranked 16th in the nation in red zone defense, allowing scores on just 22 out of the 30 times they’ve allowed their opponents to enter the red zone. They’ll likely bend, but they’ll hope not to break against the triple option.
(Sam Smith, fellow writer for MarylandSportsBlog.com,, contributed the SMU part of this article.)