RUTGERS' OFFENSE VS. NAVY'S DEFENSE
RU (0-2) has been able to move the ball somewhat effectively through two games, but the Scarlet Knights can't score (two touchdowns and two field goals in six trips inside the red zone). The Scarlet Knights average 376 yards of total offense per game, but the scoring offense (9.5 points per game) is rated 116th out of 119 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly Division I-A). Quarterback Mike Teel is struggling mightily with five interceptions and just one touchdown pass. Rutgers, which has zero takeaways and six giveaways, is the second-worst team in turnover margin this year.
Navy's defense has been porous, and the Midshipmen (1-2) are ranked 106th or worse in several defensive categories. Opponents are scoring nearly 30 points per game against the Mids, and Duke and Ball State combined for 76 points and 884 yards of total offense. Those two teams also outscored Navy 35-14 in the second half.
On paper, Rutgers has the edge, but the Scarlet Knights have not translated that into real results.
NAVY'S OFFENSE VS. RUTGERS' DEFENSE
Navy has the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation, compiling 370.3 yards per game on the ground. Shun White is the leading rusher in college football with a 196 yards per game average. Moving the ball and scoring have not been a problem for the Midshipmen, who average more than 31 points per game so far.
Rutgers was unable to effectively stop either of its previous opponents, as the Scarlet Knights have yielded 800 total yards and an average of 34 points per game through the first two contests. Just as Rutgers has sputtered inside the red zone, opponents have scored each of the nine times they have made it inside RU's 20-yard line. Rutgers has not been able to stop the run very well, letting Fresno State and North Carolina each rack up at least 150 yards on the ground. Fresno State had 206 yards rushing in a 24-7 victory over Rutgers on Sept. 1, and Navy could eclipse that mark this week.
Neither team has distinguished itself in kickoffs or punting, though Rutgers had an 82-yard punt return negated by penalties in the first game. Navy kicker Matt Harmon is 6-for-7 on field goal attempts and a perfect 11-for-11 on extra points. Rutgers kicker San San Te had a rough outing in his debut this year, going 0-for-2. He rebounded and hit both of his attempts in the 44-12 loss to North Carolina on Sept. 11, but he is an unknown in pressure situations.
Rutgers is in transition this season with the coaching staff, as several new faces are on the sidelines and several mainstays from previous seasons have exited the picture. Head coach Greg Schiano has lifted RU from laughingstock to respectability, but this season is testing his mettle.
Navy's Ken Niumatalolo is in his first full season as a collegiate head coach. He took over for the departing Paul Johnson in the Poinsettia Bowl last year and has compiled a 1-3 record, including 1-2 this season. Niumatalolo kept the triple option intact, but he has yet to beat a team from the FBS.
Both teams are struggling. Rutgers is reeling after an 0-2 start, and Navy can't seem to finish opponents while dropping two straight. Each squad desperately needs a win to keep bowl hopes alive.
Navy is bolstered by the tradition that accompanies games in Annapolis, and its fans are sure to remember last season when some rowdy Rutgers fans taunted the Midshipmen. Revenge is on the minds of the Mids, who host a Rutgers team that has yet to figure out how to play football this year.
HEAD TO HEAD
The overall series is very even (RU leads 11-10-1), but Rutgers has owned head-to-head meetings in recent years. The Scarlet Knights are on a three-game winning streak over the Midshipmen, including a 34-0 decision in 2006 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Rutgers has won six of the last seven games in a series that began in 1897.
Rutgers has been to a bowl game in three straight seasons and has won two consecutive bowl games. The Scarlet Knights were a dropped pass from winning the Big East and heading to a Bowl Championship Series game two years ago.
Navy has played in five straight bowl games, compiling a 2-3 record in those postseason appearances. The Midshipmen are 44-22 since the beginning of 2003, including a 10-win season in 2004.