October 17, 2009
The raw data: SMU finished the 2008 season with an 1-11 record. Coach June Jones is entering his second season in Dallas after previously coaching at Hawaii. The Mustangs return 51 lettermen including 8 on both sides of the ball.
Why we should be worried: It's a road game and these guys are going to be better. Jones went with youth last year and this season it should begin paying dividends for him. Sophomore Bo Levi Mitchell, who passed for 2,865 yards, 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, should be improved. He has all four of his top wide receivers returning too. On defense top tackler Pete Fleps, a 6-foot-1, 228 pound linebacker, returns.
Why we should be optimistic: The 34-7 Navy rout of the Mustangs last season was one of the most lopsided of the season. Ricky Dobb had over 220 yards rushing alone. SMU will be improved but probably not enough to beat Navy.
What might happen: A tough fight. SMU will give Navy a battle but Navy will pull it out with a late run by Dobbs.
Predicted Score: Navy 34 SMU 31
October 24, 2009
The raw data: Wake Forest finished the 2008 season 8-5. They return 44 lettermen including nine offensive and four defensive starters. Jim Grobe enters his ninth season at Wake Forest with an 87-77-1 record.
Why we should be worried: Forget the win at Wake last year. These Deacons are going to be tough. They have Riley Skinner back at quarterback along with his entire offensive line and running back Josh Adams. On defense the Deacons have 295 pound nose guard Boo Robinson back, who had 47 tackles and 5 sacks a year ago.
Why we should be optimistic: Wake Forest won't have the homefield advantage this season. The Deacons are without most of their defense from last year, including first round draft pick Aaron Curry who is now with the Seahawks. While most of the offense returns for '09, they just weren't very good last year and while they should be improved don't expect a USC type explosive offense.
What might happen: This will be rumble in Annapolis against two, well-coached, evenly matched teams. When you look at last year's two games, it's hard to tell what will happen. We do know one thing: it will be a physical battle but Navy's home field advantage should give them a slight edge.
Predicted Score: Navy 27 Wake Forest 24
October 31, 2009
The raw data: The Owls finished the 2008 season 5-7. They were three plays from being 8-4. Temple returns 51 lettermen including six offensive and nine offensive starters. They are coached by Al Golden (10-26) who is entering his fourth season in Philadelphia.
Why we should be worried: Temple is well coached and overdue for a good year. Last year's game was incredibly close and if not for a big fourth quarter Navy comeback it would have been a loss for the Mids. Wide receiver Jason Harper caught 33 passes for three scores last season. On defense the Owls have their top eight tacklers back from a year ago. Free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett led the Owls last season with 88 tackles, four passes broken up and three interceptions.
Why we should be optimistic: Temple had their chance last season at home and blew it. Gone is fine quarterback Adam DiMichele who threw for six touchdowns last year against Eastern Michigan. Temple will be stronger on defense but that shouldn't be enough to top Navy on the road.
What might happen: The Owls caught Navy napping last season after a Mids dominating win over SMU. Look for Navy to be better ready mentally for the Owls. This game won't be a Navy blowout but look for the Mids to win by at least two scores.
Predicted Score: Navy 28 Temple 17