#25 SMU Mustangs (9-1, 5-1) vs Navy Midshipmen (7-2, 5-1)
Start Time: 3:30pm EST
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.
Line: Navy -3.5
FPI: Navy 54.6%
Series: Navy leads All-Time series 12-8.
The Mustangs of Southern Methodist University descend upon Annapolis for a pivotal AAC West Division match-up against the Navy Midshipmen. After a disappointing 2018 campaign in which they went 4-4 in the conference and 5-7 overall while missing a bowl game, SMU has turned it around in tremendous fashion this season as they stand at an impressive 9-1 overall, 5-1 in the conference and ranked #25 in the CFP.
SMU has had some signature wins this season which includes defeating #25 TCU 41-38 and out-lasting Tulsa in a triple-overtime affair which ended with a 43-37 victory. The Mustangs arrive in the Washington, D.C area coming off another key result in which they held off East Carolina 59-51. Each time SMU scored, the Pirates answered right back with points of their own but just could not get over the hump.
The Mustangs offense is led by 6’1 Junior Shane Buechele who has had a solid season so far, throwing for 3,195 yards which has included 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. With a passer rating of 73.3, the native of Arlington, Texas started off his season with an interception and zero touchdowns against Arkansas State. That’s the only bad game he would have as he came right back with three touchdowns and zero interceptions the very next game against North Texas. The Texan’s two biggest offensive displays this season have come against Temple where he threw for six touchdowns and two weeks ago against ECU where he threw for five touchdowns and one interception.
SMU has had a great statistical season as they are in the Top 40 in the nation in almost all categories. Their passing game is heavily relied on as the Mustangs rank 7th in the country with 328.1 yards a game. If you thought this was would open up weaknesses in the ground attack, you are sadly mistaken as the team averages 194.1 yards per game which is good for 36th in the nation. Lastly, if you want to beat SMU you will have to continue to exchange blows with them throughout the game as they put points up at a rapid pace with 45.1 a game which is 4th in the country.
SMU gives up 32.7 points a game so it’s not like the opposition will have trouble scoring. In most cases, however, the Mustang offense is just a bit better and can outlast anyone as was the case in the ECU game as well as during many of their games this season.
The Midshipmen slink back to campus after an absolute shell-shocking by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last Saturday 52-20. Notre Dame scored a blistering 38 straight points before Navy even got into the red-zone and cruised to a comfortable win. While a loss was far from far-fetched, Navy supporters definitely expected a close game and a fight from their football team. Neither of that happened which left fans unusually disgruntled at the Midshipmen.
Navy now forgets the past and turns its focus to the visiting Mustangs. As big a game last Saturday was against the Fighting Irish, much of it was due to historical significance. This weekend’s tilt with SMU is about Division crowns and Conference titles. The winner of this game will most likely win the American West and earn a spot in the 2019 AAC Championship Game. In turn, the AAC Champion will earn a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. Navy has not won an AAC title nor appeared in a NYE bowl in school history so the motivation is only ratcheted up as we move along to the latter part of the Season. Navy also has a chance to regain their place in the CPF rankings.
As always, Malcolm Perry will lead Navy in their offense. After being completely shut down in South Bend, the Tennessee native looks to right the ship (no pun intended). Through 10 games this season, Perry has rushed for 1,159 yards with 16 touchdowns. In the air, the Senior has 758 yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Navy’s 2019 Season statistics did not take much of a hit after their debacle against Notre Dame. The Midshipmen still rank #1 in the country in their rushing attack with 349.3 yards per game which is complemented by their point per game average of 37.9 which is 12th in the nation. Navy’s defense for the majority of this season has been in a lock-down zone as they only give up 21.9 points per game. Even as opposing teams with elite offenses have lined up against the Mids defense, the future sailors continue to stand strong and prevent points.
I want you to take Navy’s 21.9 points allowed statistic and throw it out the window. If you like defense, this game isn’t for you. The SMU offense is too well run to expect them to score anything below 40. However, if you’re a Navy fan, there is no need to fret as the Mids should not be expected to score anything below 40 as well. The key to this game will be seeing if SMU’s passing attack can be slowed down. The Mustangs will provide plenty of scoring opportunities for Navy as well since they give up 425.9 yards a game.
After being embarrassed 7 days ago, I expect Navy to come out on fire and with a chip on their shoulder. SMU has had 2 weeks off and rust might be a factor, as you saw with Navy against the Irish. If SMU seems to be a step behind early, Navy might keep scoring and hold off the Mustangs until the end.
Navy 48 SMU 41