Three Keys: Navy at Memphis

Navy takes on Memphis on Saturday in a game with national level implications. The Tigers debuted at No. 13 in the first College Football Playoff ranking of the season and are in pole position among the Group of Five conferences to break into the playoff picture.

Memphis cannot afford a loss and one of the biggest tests remaining on the schedule is this one against a Navy team that is tied with both Memphis and Houston atop the West Division in the American.

Here is a look at the three keys to victory over the Tigers:

1) Navy’s rushing offense vs Memphis defense

This is one of those instances where the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Navy currently ranks fourth nationally in rushing, picking up just under 320 yards per game on the ground as a team. With rushing as the backbone of the offense the Mids are putting up 34 points per game with their fullbacks, slot backs and quarterback all chipping in with yardage and touchdowns. Memphis on the other hand ranks 22nd nationally against the run and is giving up just under 120 yards per game on the ground. Memphis has not faced an offense, or a run game, like the one Navy brings yet in 2015. The ability of the Tigers defense to stop the run will be massive for the outcome of the game.

2) Stop Paxton Lynch dominating in the air

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch has been on a tear throughout 2015. He has passed for more than 300 yards in each of the last seven games Memphis has played. On the season Lynch has thrown 18 touchdowns and one interception while averaging 339 yards per game. Perhaps the most impressive stat, however, is that Lynch has completed over 70 percent of his passes on the season. This accuracy rate is simply outstanding and it is obvious when considering it why Memphis is able to put up so many points so easily against quality defenses. Navy will have to find a way to rattle Lynch and keep him under pressure if they expect to win the game.

3) Get a lead and play clock management

Memphis is an offensive machine. The Tigers have scored 37 or more points in seven of their eight games this fall and have put up over 50 in half of their games. Memphis has however trailed early in six of their eight contests and are susceptible to going behind by more than a score before rallying back. The Mids best shot at an upset here is to get ahead of Memphis and make the Tigers chase the game. Navy is the best ball control offense, by a long way, that the Tigers will have faced in 2015. If the Mids can get ahead and squeeze the life out of Memphis by shortening the game then they may be able to have Lynch make some mistakes. If those mistakes are then capitalized on then Navy can spring the upset.


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