September 26, 2009
The raw data: Navy and WKU have never met on the football field. The Hilltoppers finished the 2008 season 2-10 and returns 33 lettermen including 8 offensive starters and 4 defensive starters.
Why we should be worried: Remember Delaware a couple years ago? How about Temple last year? Navy fans should certainly be worried about the Mids coming out flat for the Hilltoppers. You can bet Western would be thrilled to pull off a big upset over a storied service academy team such as Navy. The Hilltoppers have two outstanding wide receivers: Jake Gaebler and Derrius Brook. That duo caught a combined 67 passes last season. On defense 6-foot-3 250 pound linebacker Blake Boyd is back. He was second on WKU in tackles last year with 67.
Why we should be optimistic: Again, this team won two games last season. They lost to 1-11 North Texas, 51-40. This will be just what the doctor ordered for Navy after the three tough opening games to start the season.
What might happen: Look for Navy to take control early. Ricky Dobbs runs for two early scores and the Mids never look back. WKU gets a meaningless fourth quarter score.
Predicted Score: Navy 48 Western Kentucky 7
October 3, 2009
The raw data: Navy defeated Air Force, 33-27, last year. The Mids have now won six in a row over the Falcons. Air Force returns 44 lettermen including 6 starters on each side of the ball. Head coach Troy Calhoun (17-9) is entering his third season at AFA.
Why we should be worried: Navy's had some very narrow wins over these guys over the past few years. Last year AFA out gained USNA by a 411-244 advantage but Navy was able to pull it off using big special teams plays (blocked punts). Air Force is led by running back Asher Clark who ran for 656 yards and five touchdowns last year. On defense linebacker Ken Lamendola is their star. He led the Falcons in tackles last year with 118.
Why we should be optimistic: Navy gets AFA at home this year and that's a huge advantage. The Mids have simply been able to find a way to beat the Falcons over the past six years.
What might happen: It'll be another close one, Air Force has a solid team. Look for another medium scoring game with big plays that decide the outcome. Navy scores late to increase their win streak over Air Force to seven.
Predicted Score: Navy 27 Air Force 23
October 10, 2009
The raw data: Rice finished the 2008 season, 10-3, which was one of their best seasons ever. The Owls return 49 lettermen including 4 offensive and 9 defensive starters. Head coach David Bailiff (13-12) returns for his third season in Houston.
Why we should be worried: Navy is 3-7 over the last 10 years the week after the Air Force game. Rice was a terror last year on offense, averaging 31 points and almost 300 yards a game passing. They've got wide receivers Toren Dixon and Corbin Smiter back who combined for 80 catches last year. On defense they return their top NINE tacklers headed by free safety Andrew Sendejo who had 94 stops.
Why we should be optimistic: Hey, Rice may have been good last year on offense but this year they'll have to do without the offensive coordinator who designed that offense as he has left for Iowa State. They also will be without stellar quarterback Chase Clement who passed for 4,119 yards and 44 touchdowns last year. Incredibly he didn't get picked up in the NFL draft or even signed as a free agent. Rice may have a decent number of starters back on defense but that defense was pretty weak last year allowing 33.3 points a game on average.
What might happen: Look for Navy's option offense to build an early lead and never look back. Rice will trail by two touchdowns at the half and trail big by late in the third quarter. Then, after the Mids insert reserves, the Owls will score twice in the fourth quarter to make it look more respectable.
Predicted Score: Navy 41 Rice 24