At No. 20 in the College Football playoff rankings, Navy is the highest ranked among the Group of Five schools and simply must pick up a victory here to maintain that position. Tulsa has plenty to play for too as a win in either of the team’s last two games will see the Golden Hurricane become bowl eligible.
Here are the three keys to leaving the Sooner state is a victory:
1) Rushing domination
Against SMU last Saturday the Mids went crazy, rushing the ball for 403 yards against a predictably porous run defense. This weekend Navy faces another defense that has big time problems stopping the run, so it should be a case of simply repeating the process. Navy ranks second in the nation in rushing putting up 335 yards per game on the ground. Tulsa on the other hand is 115th among FBS programs against the run and averages giving up over 220 yards per game. With Keenan Reynolds needing just 66 yards to pass Napoleon McCallum for first place on the Mids all-time rushing list it would seem to be a smart bet to side with Reynolds and the Mids on the ground here.
2) Continue red zone efficiency
One of the under the radar stats from the Mids magnificent season has been just how good the team is in the red zone. Navy leads the nation in red zone offense, converting scoring opportunities in the red zone into touchdowns more than any other team. The Mids are, however, great on both sides of the ball in the red zone, with the defense ranking 11th in the country as the bend but don’t break philosophy, which has been the mainstay of the school for years, has really been effective in 2015. If you score often inside the 20 while preventing the other team from scoring when they are in your 20, then you will win plenty of games.
3) Keep Tulsa from racking up points
The Golden Hurricane may have problems on defense, but their offense has been outstanding at times this fall. Tulsa passes for over 330 yards per game, while rushing for 195 yards per game concurrently. With Navy averaging 37 points per game and Tulsa checking in at 36 points per game it is going to be up to the Navy defense to take away some of the weapons the Golden Hurricane like to go to. The key is quarterback Dane Evans who has passed for over 3,300 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. His go to guy is Keyarris Garrett who has 74 catches for 1,164 yards so far this fall. If the Evan to Garrett combination is slowed down then Tulsa will have much more trouble putting points on the board.